Florida is an unincorporated area of southern Lee County, located north of the
City of Bonita Springs and south of Fort Myers, Florida. Since 2000 Estero has
been one of the
fastest growing areas in the U. S. Until recently most of Estero's growth
has been residential, over 11,000 housing units have been permitted during the
last 5 and one half years. However Estero's commercial corridors, US 41 and
Corkscrew Road, are now zoned for 10,000,000 square feet of commercial
development. With only 1,500,000 of commercial development in place as of the
end of 2005, Estero will experience tremendous commercial growth over the next
The South Lee Economic and Market Recovery
Estero and South Lee County Economy Since 2000
the Presentation as a PDF Document
published in the November 2005 Estero Development Report
Until 1998 Estero was no more than a wide spot in the road on US 41 between
Fort Myers and Naples. Its property tax base was just under $600 million…this
year it is over $4.2 billion, 7 times greater.
In 2000 the Census Bureau counted 9,503 full time Estero residents with 37.3%
of all housing units being vacant…that is owned by “snowbirds”. The estimated
total population at that time is about 15,000. Since then over 11,000 housing
units have been permitted by Lee County in Estero. Consequently Estero’s total
population today is estimated to approach 38,000, with about 14,000 of them
being “snowbirds”. That’s an increase of nearly 23,000, or 150%, in less than
Thus, almost everything is new in Estero. Over 60% of all Estero homes are
less than 5 years old. Commercial development tends to follow residential
development...stores go where the rooftops are located. Estero is now zoned for
about 10 million square foot of commercial development. Of that about 1.5
million has been construction and another million is now under construction.
During 1999 the residents of Estero could see that this development boom was
coming and that it needed to be managed if it was not to overwhelm the
community. With Estero’s strategic location midway between Ft. Myers and Naples,
the community leaders knew they could not stop this train, it was moving too
fast, but needed to manage it.
At the suggestion of Lee County Development staff the community set about to
Community Plan. With the help of a professional planner, numerous public
meetings, workshops and surveys were used to involve all the residents of Estero
in the development of the Community Plan. It took about 18 months for t the plan
to be developed, reviewed by county staff and approved by the County Board.
The primary goal of the Community Plan is to make Estero’s commercial
corridors as attractive as all the residential communities that surround them.
The Plan contains much more than that but its primary focus is on the commercial
development of the community. Most of Estero’s residential communities use
Mediterranean designs so that style has been given preference by the plan for
Estero’s commercial development as well.
In addition to architecture, beautiful landscaping is a major part of what
makes our residential communities attractive. Our commercial corridors would not
compliment our residential communities without
landscaping in the roadway medians and along the sides of the road where
utilities do not prevent planting. As Estero’s roads are constructed and widened
all of them will be landscaped. During the last two years Corkscrew Road, Ben
Hill Griffin and Three Oaks Parkway between Williams Road and Corkscrew have
been landscaped. Trees are now being planted along Estero Boulevard between
Three Oaks and US 41. The landscape design for US 41 between Corkscrew and Old
41 is being revised to work around State highway restrictions and to add
plantings financed by an increase in County funding for this segment. The
designs for all of the other segments are underway and will be implemented when
the roads are widened or improved.
Parks and open space are important elements of any desirable community.
Estero was always blessed to have the
Historic Site in the center of the community. The recent acquisition of the
100 acre Boomer property
by the County and State, located immediately across the Estero River from the
Historic Site, will nearly double the size of this facility. About a mile to the
east on the south side of Corkscrew Road the County is completing construction
of the 65 acre
Community Park. The Park will include a 42,000 square foot community and
recreation center and numerous amenities including an outdoor stage for concerts
and other presentations to thousands on its Central Lawn. Finally, Estero’s
development standards encourage commercial developers to provide areas for
shoppers to relax and just enjoy their surroundings as well as nice pedestrian
walkways and biking trails.
Governmental services have to expand quickly if they are to keep up with
population growth like Estero has had these last six years. In the last three
Estero Fire Rescue district has constructed four new fire stations to more
effectively serve the community. Recently the Lee County School Board has
acquired two new sites for schools in Estero, a 10 acre site for an elementary
school just north of Estero High School and a 70 acres site for a high school
and a middle school on the east side of Three Oaks Parkway just north of
Corkscrew Road. In addition the School Board has agreed to provide 5 acres for a
Office on the 70 acre site if there is sufficient room after satisfying the
environmental needs of the site. The regional US Post Office has designated
Estero No. 1 on their priority list for new Post Offices.
Of course none of this means anything if traffic is constantly snarled and
people cannot get where they are going in a reasonable amount of time,
especially during the season.
construction, like commercial development, always lags residential and
population growth, but clearly nobody, including our road planners, could
foresee the speed of Estero’s development, thus the road network is even further
behind than usual.
Thus Estero’s community leaders are constantly encouraging the County and
State Departments of Transportation and the Metropolitan Planning Organization,
the entity that makes the long range road plans for the area, and our major
developers to recognize our traffic problems and solve them as quickly as
possible. During the last couple of years two critical north-south road segments
have been completed in Estero. They are Three Oaks Parkway from Williams Road to
Corkscrew Road and US 41 from Old 41 to Corkscrew Road. Presently, a new four
lane north-south corridor, called
extending about 3 miles from Corkscrew Road to Pelican Colony Boulevard, is
under construction for completion next year. Sandy Lane is located between US 41
and the railroad tracks and eventually will be extended to connect with Old 41
after it has been 4-laned by the City of Bonita Springs. Four vital road
segments are supposed to begin construction in 2006. They are three segments of
Three Oaks Parkway designed to complete the third north-south corridor from Ft.
Myers to Naples and the extension of Estero Parkway over I-75 from Three Oaks to
Ben Hill Griffin. The Estero Parkway segment is designed to take some pressure
off the very congested I-75 Corkscrew Interchange.
Traffic congestions will still be a problem in three areas over the next
several years. In addition to ensuring that the above projects are completed on
schedule, Estero’s community leaders continue to focus on road improvements at
those tree locations: US 41 between Corkscrew Road and San Carlos Park; the
Corkscrew I-75 interchange area between Three Oaks Parkway and Ben Hill Griffin
and US 41 between Coconut Road and Old 41 in Bonita Springs.
Stimulators of Estero's Growth
published in the July 2004 Estero Development Report
Representatives of the Lee
County Port Authority discussed future plans for the airport with the
members of the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) at their meeting
on July 16th. The new Midfield Terminal will open for business
next spring. That facility will initially contain 785,000 square feet and 28
gates with provision for a larger number of gates when needed in the future.
A new parallel runway
will be constructed south of the Midfield terminal between 2010 and 2015.
That runway will not have a major impact upon noise and air pollution in
Estero because if will be used primarily for take-offs while the existing
runway will be used for landings. Due to our prevailing winds most planes
take off to the east and then turn north, thus avoiding Estero airspace.
In the meantime the
existing runway will be rehabilitated. Before the rehabilitation begins the
taxiway for the existing terminal will be converted into a temporary runway.
The airlines that are financing the Midfield terminal have insisted that the
existing terminal be demolished so that they can avoid unfair competition
from airlines that are not sharing in the financing of the Midfield
After September 15th
Estero residents will be able to quickly reach the existing terminal without
using I-75 by driving north on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway and continuing on
Treeline Drive from Alico Road up to Daniels Parkway.
The Port Authority has
implemented studies that provide the basis for noise abatement policies that
are now part of the Lee County Comprehensive Plan. Residences located within
identified sound impacted areas are therefore eligible for Federal Noise
Abatement (insulation) grants. Although aircraft movements are expected to
increase from the present 75,000 per year to 129,000 by 2020, noise levels
are not expected to increase due to reductions in engine noise.
On July 16th
Dr. Joseph Shepard,
Vice President of
brought the ECCL members up to date on the University's development plans.
FGCU's Fall 2004 Enrollment is expected to total 6,300 students. Currently
there are 1,700 student housing units on campus with 800 additional
off-campus units currently under construction for Fall student occupancy.
On-campus student housing units are expected to number between 3,000 and
4,500 five years from now.
FGCU has received
commitments for $125 million in private donations during the last five
years. Many of these donations have triggered matching grants from the State
and/or the Federal Government. Two major donations have recently been
received for development of an
Another gift of 75 acres of land just north of
Teco Arena will provide the
University with a site for several Charter Schools to be affiliated with the
In addition the
University has stimulated private investment by entities that need or want
to locate near such an institution. Cleveland Clinic has purchased land near
and I-75 because of its proximity to the University. Additional land along
Alico is being developed as a University linked
Good Question! And it puzzles a lot of residents. Estero is an unincorporated area of Lee County with no municipal boundaries of its own. Yet, the Community Plan requires a specific, defined area. So here are the populated area borders of the Estero Core Community defined in the plan - with a strong assist from the boundaries of the
Estero Fire District.
Estero’s Core Community encompasses 26 square miles - and 13 golf courses.
- West: The west boundary of the Estero Core Community is Estero Bay.
East: The Core Community extends to the eastern boundary of The Habitat on Corkscrew Road, three and a half miles east of I-75.
North: The Estero Core Community’s northern boundary extends west from Estero Bay to include
Riverwoods Plantation and
Breckenridge. The line hops Highway 41 to include
The Vines and Estero Golf Estates. It then turns a half-mile south to Koreshan Boulevard and continues straight east. It jumps I-75 to include
Teco Arena and
Grandezza and continues east to The Habitat.
South: The Estero Core Community is bounded on the south by the Bonita Springs city line which divides
Pelican Landing. It jumps Highway 41 at the Bonita Springs city limits sign and extends east along the south border of The
Brooks on Bonita Bill Street to I-75. Across I-75 it turns north two miles to the southern border of
Stoneybrook and continues to the eastern border of The Habitat.
list of Estero Communities, with information on the number and types of
homes they include.