October 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the October Edition of my newsletter. Please feel free to reply with a comment. I am always looking to improve on the content for my subscribers.

Also, visit my website waltbethel.com to view my listings, search for properties, or to enjoy one of my archived newsletters and stories on Florida History.

Thank you,

Trick or Ice Cream?
If you’ve been in or near Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda on Halloween you might have seen trick-or-treaters walking around eating ice cream. Maybe you thought that was a little unusual.
It started with a guy named Albert Waller Gilchrist, a civil engineer, who came to the town of Trabue back in 1885 as a surveyor and engineer for the Charlotte Harbor Division of the Florida Southern Railroad.Under his direction, the tracks to Trabue were completed in 1886.  He was also in charge of the construction of the railroad’s terminal facilities that included a 4,200 foot Long Dock into Charlotte Harbor. This established the town as a deepwater port and regular steamship service began to Havana, Key West, and New Orleans. Trabue was renamed Punta Gorda in 1887.
Gilchrist retired from the railroad and became a real estate broker, surveyor and land developer with an office on Marion Avenue. With the area growing in leaps and bounds, he quickly made enough money to give up surveying, focusing on his land interests.
He became involved in politics winning a position in the state legislature in 1892. Taking a brief break to serve in the military during the Spanish-American War, he returned to the legislature and was elected Florida’s 20th governor in 1909, a goal he had set for himself as a boy. By this time he was a wealthy landowner and one of the most successful businessmen in the state.
Over the years he considered Punta Gorda his home, visiting often. He was known for his charitable contributions including donations of land to many organizations. He never married but was very fond of children. When he walked down Marion Avenue he would frequently give kids Indian head nickels he kept in his pocket to buy ice cream and candy from the local store. He had a tradition of treating them to ice cream on Halloween.
He died on May 15, 1926, and was buried in Indian Springs Cemetery. He was an active brother of the Mason Fraternity since 1890 and left the following provision in his will:
“It has been my custom, when in Punta Gorda on Halloween night, to set up to all the boys and girls at one of the drug stores generally ice cream cones; I want the Lodge (Masons) to continue this custom, using a part of the interest (of the $5000 principal left the Lodge). It costs little and affords much happiness.”
The Masons have continued this tradition since his death, providing ice cream to the children of Punta Gorda in the park named after him.
What is Florida without Oranges?
Florida's citrus crop is on pace to shrink again next year to its lowest total since 1945, if you don't count the destruction Hurricane Irma caused in 2017 to the state's already-depleted groves.
Driving the news: The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its initial citrus crop forecast for the 2021-22 season: 47 million boxes of Florida oranges, down 11% from last season's 52.8 million.
Of note: Fruit per tree was the lowest on record for both non-Valencia and Valencia oranges since the first year this number was collected, 1964-1965.
  • Huanglongbing — or citrus greening — is to blame. The bacteria has infected 90% of the state's groves.
  • Production has declined steadily since 2003, the season before citrus greening emerged as a threat to the $9 billion industry.
Why it matters: What is Florida without oranges? Citrus has been farmed commercially here since the 1800s due to the state's sandy soil and climate, and the industry employs nearly 76,000 Floridians.
Yes, but: After a peak production of 244 million boxes of all citrus during the 1997-98 season, production has been in decline for more than 20 years. Thousands of citrus farmers have quit. Factories for processed juice have shut down.
The intrigue: Production of specialty citrus like tangerines and tangelos is expected to be up slightly this season with 900,000 boxes forecasted.
What they’re saying: "We remain committed to supporting our citrus producers with research, technology, and techniques to fight the spread of citrus greening," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement.
What to watch: Fried said she has requested $15.6 million in the state's next budget to support citrus production, health and research.

Haunting on the Harbor

Southwest Florida's largest Haunted House

October 22-24th and October 29th-31st
Festival and Haunted House

See more:

The stories may be old, but the chills are new. If you believe.
To reach the second floor of the Arcadia Opera House, you have to climb 27 old, creaky floors. It's an ominous sign of what's to come. Many consider the building to be one of the most haunted in all of Southwest Florida.
By day, the Opera House is an antique shop. By night, it's a playground for ghost hunters.
Eric Kincaid is one of several ghost hunters who have recorded electronic voice phenomena, or spirit voices there.
Kincaid and others point to the Opera House's dark history to explain the ghosts. A 1905 fire destroyed an orphanage on the same property. The next year, the Opera House was the first building to go back up in downtown Arcadia. But legend has it, a little girl fell out of a window and died, a few years later. Ghost hunters claim, she still haunts the building
Featured Listings
Development Opportunity Downtown Punta Gorda
290 E Charlotte Ave. Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Conveniently located 1.12 Acres in growing Punta Gorda City limits. CC zoning allows for a multitude of commercial development opportunities PLUS an overlay district allowing for residential development. Over 700ft of road frontage across three streets with public utilities available. Unique opportunity to own one of the last large, assembled sites in area. Close to downtown restaurants, entertainment, and just a short walk to beautiful Charlotte Harbor.

MLS: C7449827
Total Acres: 1.12
Listing Price: $749,000
137+ Riverfront Acres
10531 SW Kissimmee Rd. Arcadia, FL 34269
Gorgeous, undisturbed "Old Florida" river front property for your private estate or recreational hunting and fishing retreat. Offering 137.84+ acres full of oak hammocks, cabbage palms, and pine trees with approx. 1,970 feet of frontage on the Peace River via the quiet inlet "Lettuce Lake." A county maintained public boat ramp is just around the corner. Property is fenced and includes 1,800 sf steel building. Less than 15 minutes to I-75, and just 45 minutes from Sarasota or Ft. Myers. A rare find with navigable waters to Charlotte Harbor.

Total Acres: 137.84
MLS: C7437985
Listing Price: $2,399,000
4.9 Acres with Creek Frontage
SW Piggyback Rd. #B Arcadia, FL 34266
4.9 acres in DeSoto County with CREEK FRONTAGE. An ideal home site for country living. This land is located less than 10 minutes to Arcadia, but secluded enough for rural living. Call today for a showing.

MLS: C7446929
Total Acres: 4.9
Listing Price: $100,000

Shovel Ready Land Punta Gorda Airport Park
5 Acre Parcel
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
5 Acres Shovel-Ready in growing Charlotte County Airport Park. Bring your business! Infrastructures such as city water/sewer and storm water retention in place. ECAP Zoning (Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park) allows for a multitude of Industrial, Commercial, and Office uses. Less than 1 mile to Interstate 75 at Exit 161 and sits adjacent to Punta Gorda Airport.

8292 Holmes Blvd
Offered at: $382,000
10 Acres Shovel-Ready in growing Charlotte County Airport Park. Bring your business! Infrastructures in place such as city water/sewer and storm water retention. ECAP Zoning (Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park) allows for a multitude of Industrial, Commercial, and Office uses. Property has ~670’ of road frontage on the front and ~670’ of road frontage on back, can be divided. Less than 1 mile to Interstate 75 at Exit 161 and sits adjacent to Punta Gorda Airport.

8264 Duffie Dr.
Sold Price: $665,000

9.7 Acre Grove DeSoto
SE Shelfer Ave. #A Arcadia, FL 34266
9.7 Acres in south DeSoto County. An ideal location for a country home site. Convenient access to Hwy 31, just 30 minutes or so to Ft. Myers and 10 minutes to Arcadia. This property has a 5” well with an electric five horsepower pump and over 600 producing orange trees.

Total Acres: 9.7
List Price: $169,000

Less than 3 days to Contract!
5+ Acre Tracts
2827 SE Hing Dr. Arcadia, FL 34266
5+ Acres ready for you to come build your dream home in southern Desoto County. 10 minutes to Publix, shopping, and restaurants. NO DEED RESTRICTIONS. Just a short drive into Arcadia or Punta Gorda and about 30 minutes to Ft. Myers. Bring your animals and come build on this beautiful piece of cleared land! Looking for more acreage? Adjoining 5-15 acres also for sale.

SOLD! Tract 35: 5.05 Acres sold price: $75,750
PENDING! Tract 36: 6.22 Acres offered at $93,300
SOLD! Tract 61: 5.04 Acres sold price: $75,600
SOLD! Tract 62: 5.05 Acres sold price:$75,750

35+ Acres Zoned RMF-6 with Improvements
9881 Lettuce Lake Rd. Arcadia, FL 34269
35+/- Acres in DeSoto County less than 15 minutes to Interstate 75.This property is zoned RMF-6 allowing for a total of 211 units. Improvements have already been completed such as paved roadways, retention pond, curbing, fire hydrants and lift station. Previously approved development plans are available for review. Opportunity to be in a growing area located near the Peace River with river access 2 minutes away. This property is centrally located between both Kings Hwy and Hwy 17 with quick access to Arcadia, Port Charlotte, or Punta Gorda. Only 45 minutes to Sarasota and Fort Myers.

MLS: C7442469
Total Acres: 35.71
Listing price: $2,900,000
10 Acres with Creek Frontage
SW Piggyback Rd. #A Arcadia, FL 34266
A rare find with extras!!! 10 Acres in DeSoto County with CREEK FRONTAGE. An ideal home site for country living. Additionally, the property has TWO wells and power. This land is located less than 10 minutes to Arcadia, but secluded enough for rural living.

MLS: C7446925
Total Acres: 10
Sold Price: $185,000

About Walt Bethel
Walt Bethel is a fifth generation Floridian, born and raised in Arcadia, with a vast knowledge of all areas of Florida Real Estate and an ardent appreciation for Florida history.  
The purchase and development of his first orange grove when he was just sixteen years old fueled Walt's passion for real estate.  
Since then, he has bought, owned, and sold a wide variety of properties throughout a successful business career. His investments have included acreage, agricultural properties, residential homes, condos, and commercial properties. 
Walt's marketing and sales experience was cultivated over time at his family's business, Bethel Farms, where he marketed, managed, and sold products to "Big Box" retailers across the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
From an early age, Walt's dad instilled in him the values to work hard and always have a goal, to look for a better way of doing things, and to constantly improve on them.  
The daily implementation of these principles, coupled with his enjoyment of networking with new people and his experience in business, sales, and marketing, have contributed to Walt's success as a Realtor.
Walt has served on various boards and committees throughout the years. He has coached and actively supports local youth athletic programs and leagues. 
He and his wife Jill, also a fourth generation Floridian, reside in Punta Gorda. They have two children, a daughter Peyton and a son Truman.
Walt Bethel | RE/MAX Harbor Realty| 863.990.1748 | wbethel@waltbethel.com| www.waltbethel.com