Estero Development Report
Volume 5 Number 4
Issued August 2004
Edited by ECCL--the Estero Council of Community
For More Information about Estero Go To www.esterofl.org
This Report will soon be available on the Estero Fire Rescue website
www.esterofire.org and the Estero Community website at
September Opportunities for Citizen
Participation In Protecting Estero's Quality of Life
Roadway Landscape Advisory Committee
Community Development Building,
Monroe Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room
Thursday, September 8th
Lee County 2005-06 Budget Hearing
Chambers, 2nd Floor,
2120 Main Street, FM
Development Code Advisory Committee consideration of the 3rd
round of Estero LDC Changes
Community Development Building,
Monroe Street, Conference Room 1B, Ft Myers
Community Planning Panel review of the D’Jamoos Projects in
Plaza del Sol, Corkscrew Crossings and Camargo Trust North
10 Acres Rezoning Applications
Fire Rescue District Board Meeting
Estero United Methodist Church - Founder's Hall
Wednesday, September 14th
Executive Regulatory Oversight Committee consideration of
the 3rd round of Estero LDC Changes
Community Development Building,
Monroe Street, 1st Floor Conference Room
First Budget Hearing on the Estero Fire Rescue 2005-2006 proposed
budget, followed by the monthly District Board Meeting
Wednesday, September 14th
Design Review Committee review of the new WCI Headquarters
Building in Coconut Square
||The Perry Room of
The Estero Country Club at The Vines
Council of Community Leaders Meeting …open to the public
River Club at Pelican Sound
Examiner’s Hearing on the Cypress Shadows RPD far east on
Community Development Building,
Monroe Street, 2nd Floor Hearing Room
Lee County 2005-06 Budget Hearing
2120 Main Street, FM
County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting
1926 Victoria Avenue
Tentative second hearing on the Estero Fire Rescue 2005-2006
To learn more about Estero and its growth management efforts
view the new website of the Estero Community Planning Panel (ECPP);
the Estero Civic Association (ECA); the
Estero Design Review
Committee (EDRC) and the Estero Council of Community Leaders
(ECCL) at www.esterofl.org.
The site is still in formation…your suggestions for improvement
are most welcome.
Estero is the only community in Southwest Florida where the
residents have two opportunities to influence the use and appearance
of each of its development projects. The first opportunity occurs
when the property is being zoned. In Estero each developer must hold
a public meeting in the community before filing a zoning application
with the County. These meetings, typically sponsored by the
Community Planning Panel (ECPP), provide an opportunity for Estero
residents to support or oppose features of the developer’s plan for
the site. These meetings are the “early warning” signals for the
community that something is going to be developed on the subject
property, usually within a few years.
The second opportunity for citizen influence in Estero, and only
in Estero, is when the developer has a specific plan for developing
part or all of his property. At this time the developer must obtain
a Development Order (DO) from the County but before applying he
needs to hold another community meeting, this time with the help of
the Estero Design Review Committee (EDRC). By this time the
developer must have a detailed plan for the use of a parcel of this
property. That plan and design is reviewed by the EDRC and the
public, in detail, for a wide variety of site planning,
architecture, landscaping, parking, access and other issues. As with
the ECPP sponsored meetings a report must be submitted to Lee County
staff for their use in the approval process. Once the County
approves a DO for a project, construction usually starts within a
year. Thus DO’s are a pretty good short term predictor of future
Since its creation about four years ago the ECPP has reviewed
zoning requests of developers owning a majority of the land in
Estero’s commercial corridors. There have been 66
attended by thousands of Estero residents, most of which reviewed
one or more rezoning projects. While the ECPP is still reviewing
some major commercial corridor projects, its workload is nowhere as
heavy as it was a year or two ago.
On the other hand the number of DO’s on each month’s EDRC agenda
continues to increase and that trend is likely to continue for
several years. This increase reflects the large number of retailers
seeking Estero locations and the fact that many of our zoned
commercial properties are large and contain many development
parcels, each of which will eventually require a DO.
Examination of the projects reviewed by the ECPP and the EDRC
predicts the following development pattern:
- Estero has two exceptionally hot commercial areas that
should stay hot for a few more years. They are
US 41 from Bonita
Springs to Corkscrew Road and Corkscrew Road from Three Oaks
Parkway to Ben Hill Griffin.
- The two areas that will be developed next are
US 41 from
Corkscrew Road to the San Carlos Park community and Corkscrew
Road from Sandy Lane to Three Oaks Parkway.
- The last commercial areas to be developed in Estero are the
following intersections with Three Oaks Parkway --- Estero
Parkway, Williams Road and Coconut Road. Their development may
be accelerated once
Three Oaks Parkway connects Naples to Ft
Myers, now estimated to be in mid-2007.
from Bonita Springs to Corkscrew Road
Coldwell Banker, Coconut Point Ford and a
dental office building
next to Coldwell Banker have opened for business in this area during
the past 18 months. Presently construction is underway at
Point where about 1 million square foot of retail will be completed
over the next 18 months along with many of the 275 housing units to
be included in the project.
Estero Fire Rescue’s Coconut Point
station is nearly complete; many of Rapallo’s 540 housing units are
rising rapidly and the Bank of Florida at
Coconut Square is now
During the last 18 months five more properties in this area have
started or completed the zoning process. They are:
- North Point with 550,000 square feet of retail; 120,000
square feet of office; 150 hotel rooms and 150 housing units on
102 acres on the east side of US 41 just north of Williams Road.
- Paradise Shoppes with 100,000 square feet of retail on 22
acres on the northwest corner of US 41 and Williams Road.
- Camargo Trust North with 125,000 square feet of commercial
space and 42 housing units on 11 acres on the west side of US 41
north of the
Pelican Sound entrance.
Coconut Trace with 95,000 square feet of retail on 25 acres
on the west side of US 41 in front of
- Halfway Creek CPD with 132,000 square feet of commercial on
10 acres on the west side of US 41 between
Fountain Lakes and
Meanwhile the EDRC has heard presentations from the developers of
Paradise Shoppes and
Barkis Car Wash to be built near
the Corkscrew Village Shopping Center; Lee Memorial has closed on
its purchase of 22 acres in the south end of
Coconut Point for a
possible future hospital and JED has purchased the 46 acre site once
coveted by Wal-Mart on the northwest corner of US 41 and Coconut
from Three Oaks Parkway to Ben Hill Griffin
Five buildings are now under construction in this area: the
250,000 square foot
Miromar International Design Center; the
Suites Hotel, Classic Car Wash and office building at
Plaza del Sol
and two restaurants in the
Estero Interstate Commerce Park.
During the last 18 months the
Miromar Square Corporate Center
planned for 90,000 square foot of office space and a 125 room hotel
has begun the zoning process. This project will be located just east
International Design Center.
During this same period the following Development Order plans
have been presented to the EDRC:
The layout, architecture and landscaping of these projects have
benefited greatly from the
Estero Community Plan and the
specific Land Development Code provisions approved by the Lee County
Board; the input of the Estero Community Planning Panel, the
Design Review Committee and the residents of Estero; and the
cooperation of many outstanding developers and development
professionals who assisted them.
from Sandy Lane to Three Oaks Parkway
Six buildings are now under construction in this area. They are:
- Two multi-story office buildings in the
development that has three recently completed one-story buildings
along the south side of Corkscrew Road just east of the entrance to
Estero Community Park. When the project is
completed it could have as much as 130,000 square feet of commercial
of which 15,000 may be retail.
- Three single story commercial buildings in Corkscrew Palms II just
west of the Corkscrew Palms project just discussed. This project is
zoned for over 102,000 of commercial space of which 28,000 square
feet may be retail.
- The 40,000 square foot Community and Recreation Center in the
Estero Community Park, just south of the two Corkscrew Palms
No other Development Orders are pending for this area at this
time, but there has been considerable zoning activity in the area.
Recently zoned properties along this section of Corkscrew are:
- Corkscrew River Ranch CPD, located on the southwest corner of
Corkscrew and River Ranch Road, is now zoned for 54,000 square feet
of commercial space on about 4 acres of land.
- Park Circle CPD, located on the north side of Corkscrew Road just
east of the entrance to the new
Estero Community Park, is zoned for
a limited amount of office space on about 1.5 acres.
- Picaya Bay Surgical Center, located on the north side of Corkscrew
Road just west of the existing Arby’s Restaurant, is authorized to
build up to 24,000 square feet of commercial space in two buildings
on a 3.4 acre site.
Galleria, located on the northeast corner of
Sandy Lane and
Corkscrew Road, is now zoned for 100,000 square feet of commercial
of which 70,000 square feet may be retail on 9.9 acres.
- The International Design Source, located on 11.4 acres just east
Galleria, is authorized 143,000 square feet of commercial
space with no more than 30,000 of that space for retail.
In addition the following projects have begun the zoning process:
- Estero Town Center, located at Sandy Lane on the south side of
Corkscrew, is seeking authority to build 300,000 square feet of
commercial space; 150 housings units; 150 hotel rooms and a parking
garage on 39.4 acres.
- Astor Development is seeking to rezone 47 acres between Three Oaks
Parkway and River Ranch Road for 288 housing units and 15 acres of
smaller shop retail at the corner of Three Oaks and Corkscrew. The
company also has proposed to develop 26 acres on the east side of
Three Oaks Parkway south of the commercial project on the corner for
192 additional housing units.
Once these projects are zoned there is little, if any, land yet
to be rezoned in the area.
from Corkscrew Road to San Carlos Park
During the past three years only two new buildings have been
constructed in this corridor and none are now under construction.
Between 2000 and 2003 only one property in this area was rezoned, a
1.15 acre site for the future
Cope Animal Clinic.
During the last 18 months eight properties have started the
rezoning process and two have been rezoned. They are:
- The 208,000 square foot Wal-Mart Superstore plus one outlot to
be located on the northeast corner of Estero Parkway and US 41.
- Terezei CPD, a small commercial development including a
free-standing restaurant on the east side of US 41 just north of
These two projects have completed the zoning process. The
following six projects are still being rezoned, thus are at least a
couple of years away from construction:
- Estero 4.2 CPD that is seeking authority to build a 4,200
square foot restaurant and a 36,200 square foot commercial building
on 4.2 acres just south of the
Breckenridge commerce park.
- Estero 30 is a 240 unit Meritage Homes residential development
situated on 30 acres just south of the
Cypress Bend mobile home park
on the east side of US 41 north of Broadway.
- Santorini is a Mixed Use Development by Hunt Development that is
seeking zoning for 50,000 square feet of commercial along US 41 with
220 housing units behind those stores. The site is located on the
west side of US 41at its intersection with Estero Parkway.
- Philip Lee Manufactured Homes seeks to rezone .62 acres in order
to add the land that they acquired from the
Estero Fire Rescue’s
district to their existing operation.
- Estero Ridge is a proposed 42,000 square foot retail center
situated on 6 acres on the southeast corner of Estero Parkway and US
- Estero on the River is a mixed use project proposed for 85 acres
northeast of the corner of Corkscrew Road and US 41. The Developer
is seeking authority to build 197,000 square feet of retail, 103,000
square feet of office and 471 housing units in a neo-traditional
Recently the State and the County completed the purchase of the
100 acre Boomer property on the southeast corner of US 41 and
Broadway in order to expand the
Koreshan State Park.
Probably the next project to be constructed in this area is a
6,500 square foot addition to house five stores on the northwest
corner of US 41 and Broadway, the current home of the Healthy
Complexion Day Spa.
During July Lee
County issued building permits for another 180 housing units in
Estero worth $41,229,355 exclusive of the value of the land under
the housing units. The County’s monthly reported also includes
several large commercial permits, not included in this total. They
are about $2.5 million for two new office buildings at Corkscrew
Palms II and about $6 million for the foundation for a forthcoming
residential tower in the
West Bay Club.
The following table shows how the first seven months of 2005
compares with the same period during the prior five years:
Total January- July Housing
Building Value of Units
Average Building Value Per
Percentage of Single Family
The 1,645 housing units permitted during the first seven months
of 2005 exceeds the second highest year, 2001, by 246 units, or 18%
and last year’s seven month total by 596 units or 57%. The permitted
value of these units, excluding land, exceeds the second highest
year, 2004, by $114,129,017 or 51% and is more than double the total
in three of the five prior years.
The average building value of $206 thousand almost equals 2004 in
spite of the fact that the percentage of single family homes is 14%
REMINDER: The residential building value understates the cost of
each residence because it excludes the value of the underlying land.
Coconut Point is Estero’s largest
development located on 483 acres along the east side of US 41
between the Bonita Springs northern border and Williams Road. It
consists of three distinct areas:
- The North Village extends from Williams Road to the Halfway
Creek Preserve about midway between Williams and Coconut Road
- The Town Center is located between the Halfway Creek Preserve and
- The South Village lies south of Coconut Road down to the Sanibel
Steakhouse and the office building that surrounds it.
Last month we reported on Lee Memorial’s
purchase of 22 acres in the South Village for a possible future
hospital. During August Oakbrook Properties, the developers of the
South Village and the North Village, began clearing the remaining uncleared property in this 95 acre site. This land is available for
development for medical offices, housing and assisted living uses. A
berm has recently been constructed around six acres fronting on both
US 41 and Coconut Road that is being purchased by Regency Centers
for a 33,000 square foot retail center. Finally, the southern
segment of Sandy Lane and its Pelican Colony Road extension is now
under construction within this area. This four lane segment of Sandy
Lane will extend from Coconut Road south along the railroad tracks
until it intersects in a round-about with Pelican Colony Boulevard,
which will also be four lanes wide and will extend west to US 41 to
a connection point immediately east of the existing intersection of
Pelican Colony Boulevard and US 41.
Last month we reported on the Simon Property
Group’s presentation of their design plans for the 166 acre Coconut
Point Town Center to the EDRC. When complete the Town Center will
consist of three shopping areas – The Market, the Lakefront Shops
and The Village.
Also at the July EDRC meeting representatives of
their design for the 16 screen, 3,500 seat theatre they plan to
build in the Village section of the Town Center. As we reported the EDRC was not impressed by the architecture and design of the Theater
and indicated their desire to have the rear of the theatre better
On August 10th Muvico and Simon returned to the EDRC with a new
and improved design for the Theatre. The architecture and the color
of the building were greatly improved; blue mosaics were added to
the front elevation of the theatre…their design is not yet complete,
they will include a geometric design that will be presented later to
the EDRC; the “Muvico” signs are a metal scroll work; the coping at
the front top of the building has been thickened in order to be more
prominent; the rear elevation facing Sandy Lane has a screen wall
that pops out; tower elements have been added and the height and
depth of the building is now being varied; many faux windows have
been added; the signage is back lit with no spillover; nothing is
animated or sparkling; stenciling has been added along the roofline
and stairs coming down on the rear elevation. There are poster cases
along the side elevations to indicate what movies are playing.
Security will be provided by Simon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A Sheriff’s substation is still being pursued, but has not yet
The July meeting concluded with a discussion about how the EDRC
and Simon could work together so that the EDRC could satisfy itself
that the applicable code requirements and the Coconut Point
appearance standards are being met by this large project in their
advisory capacity to the County.
On August 25th the members of the EDRC, County Development Review
staff and Simon met to ensure that all affected parties are
agreeable regarding the role that the EDRC should play in the
Coconut Point Town Center review process. It was agreed that Simon
would formalize its Design Review Authority (DRA) process for all
projects included in the Town Center; that Simon would present
monthly to the EDRC for as long as there is a need; that the next
meeting would focus on the landscaping plans for the project (there
are over 300 landscape design drawings that have thus far been
prepared for the project); that Simon would review the comments
presented to them based upon EDRC review of about 110 building
design drawings previously provided by them to the EDRC; Simon would
present to the EDRC on each outlot that has been reviewed by their
DRA and any other buildings that are being designed by tenants after
the DRA has completed their review and negotiations; that signage,
lighting and parking plans will be presented and discussed with the
EDRC when they become available and after approval by the Simon DRA.
Simon further indicated at this meeting that additional housing
will be constructed by Kosene and Kosene on an outlot located just
north of Coconut Road and just west of the railroad tracks; that
several outlot deals are nearing completion and they will be
presented to the EDRC after they have been reviewed and approved by
the Simon DRA. It is still Simon’s expectation that the north end of
the Market area (the north end of the Town Center) will open for
business about April next year; that the Lakefront and Village
sections will open for business in the fall of 2006 except for the
housing units above the stores and the Muvico Theatre which should
follow soon after.
The 540 unit
Rapallo residential development
has been proceeding rapidly for several months. By now construction
has begun on all 18 phase-one multi-family buildings containing 176
homes. The homes will be broken down as follows: 28 Terrace homes,
90 Coach homes, 42 Carriage homes and 16 Courtyard villas. Four (4)
of the 18 buildings with 32 homes have now been completed.
The four Gatehouse buildings (4) along with the surrounding
rockscape entry ponds and perimeter wall around the west side of the
development are nearly complete. In addition, the main amenity
complex including the Clubhouse, Arts & Learning Studio and Sports Club & Tennis Center will be completed in time to open
next month. The official grand opening of The Club at Rapallo has
been scheduled for Thanksgiving.
Finally, construction of Rapallo’s second phase is scheduled to
start next month.
at the Corkscrew Commerce Center
August 10th the developer of this 39,000 square foot new car sales
and service dealership and his design staff presented their plans to
the EDRC for a second time. The
dealership is located in the
Corkscrew Commerce Center
on the southeast corner of I-75 and
The revised plan made to following changes:
- Roof elements and lines were changed to reflect the
Mediterranean style sought by the EDRC.
- The color palette has been changed to earth-tones.
- Seating has been added for pedestrians around the fountain area.
- Picnic areas have been added by the pond and on the corner.
- Access to the site plan has been softened and landscaping added.
- Trellis’s has been added.
- Parking lot lighting has been changed to Mediterranean style,
however, not as much shielding is provided by this type of fixture.
A very small amount of light will spill from the premises contrary
to county policy. However, these lights are on the I-75 side of the
property where any spillover is overcome by the highway lights. The
developer would like support from the EDRC with the County to allow
the new style lights. EDRC agreed to support the proposed change in
parking lot light fixtures. In addition the light standards will be
staggered throughout the parking lot with fewer standards because
the Mediterranean lights have greater candlepower than those
previously proposed. About 45-50% of the lights will be turned off
after business hours.
- The Building’s northeastern elevation shows trellises which stand
out from the base of the building, 8 to 10 feet high braced to the
building. This is not reflected on the building plans, but the
applicant agreed to add them.
- Landscaping on the eastern elevation was discussed. The Committee
suggested sabal palm on the building perimeter in groups of 3’s and
5’s. Applicant agreed.
- Roof tile has not yet been chosen but will be standard barrel
- The Committee suggested and applicant agreed to add a mixture of
cornices and corbels between the top of the wall and the soffit.
- Developer agrees to add banding on the far left element and center
tan element on one side of the building.
- Perimeter landscaping will be on a 1.5 foot berm with double hedge
row and palm trees.
- The developer will add ixoras and annuals in islands.
- The perimeter of the pond will be undulated.
- The developer wants to create view windows along the I-75
perimeter and use more landscaping along the Corkscrew Road and
Island Walk perimeter. The Committee supports this idea and told the
developer that a variance is not needed. The committee suggested
clusters of palms, using 10-12 sabal palms in each group.
- The committee suggested the developer use shady lady and black
olives trees instead of elm.
- The committee suggested the developer substitute Queens Crepe
Myrtle for regular Crepe and Ixora Nora for Maui.
- The developer agreed to send his revised landscaping plan to the
committee so that he need not return for another EDRC meeting.
- The developer agreed to increase the size of all required trees to
45 gallon, 12-14 foot high, 3 inch caliper.
The dealership will use over 20 acres in the
Center thus reducing the number of outlots from eight to two. A
Hampton Inn will also be located in the Commerce Center.
August 15th the BOCC approved the zoning for these two projects with
the condition that the amount of retail space authorized for each be
reduced and replaced with an equal amount of office space.
Galleria project retail was reduced from 100,000 square feet to
70,000 square feet and the
Source was reduced from 60,000 to 30,000
The developers of these projects first disclosed their plans to
the ECPP sixteen months ago, in April 2004. They continued to
improve their plans and presented their detailed plans to the EDRC
on December 8, 2004. The detailed architectural and landscaping
plans for both projects are among the most attractive that have thus
far been presented to the EDRC and the community.
The "Galleria" is located on 9.9 acres on the north side of
Corkscrew Road adjacent to Sandy Lane. The developers were seeking
100,000 square-feet of retail space to be developed on four parcels,
but now only 70,000 square feet can be used for retail.
The plan for the "IDC" contains seven buildings located on 15.6
acres immediately east of the Galleria site. The developers sought
zoning for 143,000 square feet of commercial space of which no more
than 60,000 square feet could be retail space. After the BOCC acted
the 143,000 square feet will divided so that only 30,000 square feet
may be retail and 113,000 square feet for office. The eastern 4.2
acres has been sold to Empire Builders as a site for their corporate
The eastern terminus of the property is about 100-feet east of
Corkscrew Palms Boulevard. The main entrance to the project on
Corkscrew Road is directly across from Corkscrew Palms Boulevard,
the entrance to the new
Estero Community Park.
Unique to the proposal is a 20-foot deep “water feature” with two
fountains in the front of the property along Corkscrew Road and
requires a 125-foot setback of the two IDC buildings from the road,
in contrast to all the other buildings on Corkscrew being only 25
from the road right-of-way.
The BOCC decision in this case was the result of the Hearing
Examiner’s concerns about the independence of the ownership of the
two projects and the implication of this on the amount of retail
that could be authorized if it were indeed a single project
presented by a single owner.
Other conditions agreed to by the developer, the community and
county staff include:
- Extensive buffering and attractive architecture on the north
side of the property adjacent to
Estero River Estates
- A general prohibition of outdoor display and storage
- Property owner documents that will ensure compatibility of
landscaping and architecture among all components of the
All parties agree to the following deviations:
- A setback of 125 feet for the center building in the IDS in
order to build the water feature mentioned above
- Authority for the lake and the building to be conjoined, and
- Permission for the tower on the central building to exceed the
height limits established for this area.
On August 8th Bob Thinnes of Q. Grady Minor &
Associates presented this 4.2 acre commercial project to the ECPP
for a second time. The development is located on the west side of US
41 in front of the Breckenridge community just north of Estero
Parkway. Thinnes reported that he had met with County staff since
his last appearance in June and made the following changes: The
larger commercial building has been moved to the front of the
property just behind a long, narrow pond fronting US 41 with parking
in the rear. A “temporary” right in/right out entrance has been
added off of US 41 to be used until a southern interconnect becomes
available. A pedestrian connection with Breckenridge has been added.
The ECPP and the community stressed the importance of having a
landscaped buffer across the entire US 41 frontage and that the
Panel be furnished with the schedule of uses when it becomes
available. The Panel will then provide the developer and the County
with their suggestions for change.
On August 8th Meritage Homes, the successor to Colonial Homes, presented Estero 30
to the ECPP for the second time. This project is located on the east
side of US 41 north of Broadway with a back entrance off Broadway
just west of the railroad tracks.
Tony Persichilli, division president of Meritage Homes, reported
that the revised proposal eliminates the commercial development
along US 41making Estero 30 a totally residential project. A density
increase is being sought by the developer in order to compensate for
the high cost of the land along US 41 that was originally designated
for commercial development by the property owner. Elimination of the
commercial development fronting US 41 had been suggested by the
Panel when the developer last appeared before the ECPP. The Panel
was supportive of the elimination of the commercial development.
The developer indicated that they will meet again with the
Cypress Bend residents to address their concerns with buffering,
In order for the developer to obtain the requested density they
must either make payments to the County’s low/moderate housing fund
or provide some low/moderate income housing on the site. The Panel
questioned the purchase of additional density from the County
instead of providing low/moderate income housing on the site because
it does not help to alleviate our home to work traffic problems.
The Panel suggested that the developer landscape US 41 in order
to soften the appearance of the rear of the buildings along that
thoroughfare and to build them all the same height.
On August 8 the developers of
Shadows, located on Corkscrew Road west of
Bella Terra and east of
Wildcat Run, made their third presentation over the last two years
to the ECPP. The developer told the Panel that they:
- had abandoned plans to use blasting on the project
- have reduced the height of buildings from 5 to 4 stories in
response to concerns previously expressed by the Panel
- plan to build a concrete wall and install landscaping to make
certain the golf maintenance building will not be visible from
The Panel questioned the developer in order to clarify the need
for 18 requested deviations. In response to a question about the
height of buildings near the property line, the developer indicated
that the Bella Terra recreation center is immediately adjacent so
the building heights will not be a problem to that community.
Regarding the deviation that would eliminate the requirement for a
second entrance, the developer indicated that an emergency entrance
through the road leading to the golf maintenance building offsets
this deviation. Tony Palermo, the County Planner assigned to this
project, indicated that the developer had satisfied the South
Florida Water District’s site use concerns. That approval mitigated
the County’s site use concerns and thus the draft staff report will
be amended to support the project.
Just over Estero’s northern border along Ben Hill
Griffin Parkway, Miromar Lakes sold 187 new housing units during the
first six months of the year with a total value of $150,000,000.
When completed the community will contain about 2,200 housing units.
Prices currently range from $600,000 to more than $6,000,000.
Phase one of the
consisting of 250,000 square feet, is expected to open for tenant
improvements this fall. When all three phases are complete the
facility will contain 400,000 square feet of interior design stores.
The first floor of the three story building will be open to the
public while the upper two floors are reserved for design
professionals and their clients. In addition to the IDC the 38 acre
site will house a hotel and a 50,000 square foot office building.
On July 27th
the State and the County closed on the purchase of the 104 acre
Boomer Estate on the southwest corner of Broadway and US 41. This
purchase will roughly double the size of the
Koreshan State Park.
The site contains about one-half mile of shoreline along the Estero
River and a historic home that was built in 1917. About 26 acres is
reserved as a “life estate” so that Nola Boomer can live in the
family home for the rest of her life. The property will be managed
by the State Parks and Recreation Division in coordination with the
Lee County Parks and Recreation Department.
August 1st the BOCC voted to accept the staff recommendation to
remove a small section of the Estero Community Planning area along
Pine Road, across US 41 from The Vines. This small residential area
was originally included in the area by Lee County Planning staff
when the Estero Community Plan was developed in 2001. The BOCC
decided to leave Breckenridge, The
Osprey Cove, the Wal-Mart
site, Belle Lago and
The Reserve of Estero in the Planning Area
because the residents of those areas indicated that they want to
keep the protections afforded by the Community Plan and Estero LDC
The seven story,150 suite
Embassy Suites hotel on the northwest corner of Corkscrew Road and
I-75 plans to open for business in December according the hotel’s
developer. In addition to the rooms the Embassy Suites will contain
about 4,500 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant. In
anticipation of the opening the hotel has hired its general manager
and sales director.
On August 22nd over 7,200 students
will begin their 2005-06 school year studies at
Florida Gulf Coast University. With the
completion of phase seven of on-campus housing, 1,860 students will
reside along the northern boundary of the FGCU campus during this
school year. In addition to the on-campus student housing two large
and expanding off-campus student housing projects provide homes for
nearly a thousand more students. FGCU’s enrollments are up 13% from
last year requiring 35 new faculty members.
Group has agreed to donate land in the proposed “Estero by the
River” project, on the northeast corner of US 41 and Corkscrew Road,
in order to encourage the development of a 35,000 square foot, 500
seat professional regional theater with a 125 seat studio, rehearsal
and office space. The Theater is the proposal of Kristin Coury of
Gulfshore Playhouse (see their website at
www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org). If Gulfshore Playhouse is able to raise
the $15 million necessary to finance the Theater, they plan to open
the theater in the fall of 2008.
On August 10th
President Bush signed The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) Act into
law. This legislation will shape federal highway and transit
programs through 2009. Of the $286.4 billion authorized by the bill,
Florida is authorized $10.4 billion. This represents a $920 million
increase for the State of Florida over the prior 5 year legislation.
Of this increase $620 million has been earmarked for specific
projects including about $80 million for the widening of I-75 and
$10 million for a new Coconut Road/I-75 interchange. The remaining
$357 million will be used by FDOT mainly to pay for the increased
cost of existing planned improvements.
On August 1st Dave Loveland, Transportation Planning Manager for
Lee DOT, presented the BOCC with a proposal that, if approved, would
use $30 million of property tax growth revenues to establish a
revolving loan fund to be used to accelerate the implementation of
road projects that might otherwise be delayed because of the recent
escalation in the cost of road construction materials…cement, steel,
asphalt, fill etc. If approved the $30 million spent on accelerated
road projects in the coming fiscal year would by repaid with 2%
interest from funds allocated to the same projects in the succeeding
fiscal year. The repaid funds would then be used to once again
accelerate another set of projects planned for the following years.
Two of the projects on Loveland’s list for acceleration would impact
Estero. They are:
- Widening of Corkscrew Road east of Ben Hill Griffin, and
- Construction of
Three Oaks Parkway between Alico Road and Daniels
The BOCC seemed to like the idea so it will, undoubtedly, be
included in the County’s capital improvement budget for 2005-06 to
be approved by the BOCC in late September. If approved, this would
be the first time that the County has allocated property tax
revenues for a countywide road construction program. Until now all
County roads have been financed from gas taxes and road impact fees.
During 2004 FGCU commissioned a study of road improvements that would increase
the University’s ability to cope with a Hurricane or other disaster.
One of the recommendations in that report was the construction of an
I-75 on-ramp at Coconut Road and I-75. In February the City of
Bonita Springs hired a consultant to conduct a traffic study to
determine if an interchange at
Coconut Road and I-75 would improve
traffic congestion on Bonita Beach Road, Corkscrew Road, Old 41,
I-75 and Coconut Road.
FGCU University President Bill Merwin mentioned the proposal when
the Chairman of the US House Transportation Committee was at the
University for a Forum on I-75 widening on February 19th. In early
August Congressman Connie Mack announced that $10 million had been
included for this intersection in the recently approved $286 billion
Federal Transportation legislation. Press reports indicate that the
money was added by Chairman Young of the House Transportation
At its August 25th meeting the Lee County Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MPO) directed its staff to have their Technical
Advisory Committee review inclusion of this intersection into the
long range 2030 plan now under review so that Federal funding of the
intersection could be appropriated.
If the MPO amends its long range plan to include the intersection
and the Congress approves the money, the MPO and FDOT could initiate
a Planning, Development and Environmental (PDE) study to determine
what type of facility can be constructed at this intersection.
In order for the interchange to be built the FHA would have to
change the designation of the area around the intersection from
“rural” to “urban” in addition to other approvals and funding.
Oakbrook Properties set aside enough land on the west side of I-75
for a flyover or intersection when it sold the land for
to the Bonita Bay Group.
Many residents of The Brooks have expressed concern about the
impact that such an intersection would have on their homes and
quality of life.
25th the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
received a “Long range Transportation Plan Update” from MPO staff.
The report indicates that because of the environmental sensitivity
of this route that the staff submitted three bridge alternatives
between Fort Myers Beach and the mainland to FDOT’s “Efficient
Transportation Decision Making” (ETMD) process for review. The
staff’s summary of the results of the ETMD Report is as follows:
“The mid-bay bridge between Black Island and Coconut Road and the
Winkler Road Extension to mid-island were both red-flagged with
seven significant conflicts that would require dispute resolution to
be permitted; even the bridge from the east end of San Carlos Island
to the vicinity of the Fort Myers Beach town hall drew three such
The ETMD Report itself states: “It has long been realized that at
least two of these locations (Coconut Road to Black Island or
Winkler Road to Bayland Road) may have adverse environmental impacts
of sufficient magnitude to preclude them from serious consideration.
But since the responsible environmental agencies have never before
been asked to put their specific concerns on the record, these
proposals have repeatedly been resurrected. The purpose of
submitting these alternatives for ETDM review is to try to determine
once and for all whether any of these alternatives is feasible in
light of their environmental and community impacts.”
The following are the potential red flags that were raised by the
agencies regarding the Coconut Road Bridge:
- Florida EPA—potential impact on floodplains, recreation areas,
water quantity and quality, wetlands and wildlife and habitat.
- Federal Highway Authority – potential impact on wetlands.
- National Marine Fisheries Service – potential impact on coastal
and marine and wetlands.
- US Army Corps of Engineers – potential impact on wetlands and
wildlife and habitat.
- US Environmental Protection Agency – potential impact on secondary
and cumulative effects, water quality and quantity and wetlands
- US Fish and Wildlife Service – potential impact on special
designations, wetlands and wildlife and habitat.
The Report also noted that “The Coconut Road alternative would
have to pass either north or south of the
Hyatt Hotel located on the
eastern shore of Estero Bay at the current terminus of Coconut
Road…” As we who live in Estero know that is easier said than done.
None of the MPO members commented upon these findings after
Executive Director Glenn Ahlert summarized the report. The results
of the ETDM process will provide the MPO with the information
necessary to make a well informed decision about inclusion of any of
the three alternatives in the Long Range 2030 Transportation Plan
when it is adopted later this year.
On August 24th community leaders from the ECCL,
Fountain Lakes and
West Bay Club met with County transportation
staff members and the developers of
to discuss concerns raised by the County regarding the design of the Williams
Road access point to/from
Paradise Shoppes. The county suggested
several changes to the configuration, all of which were accepted by
Paradise and the community. They also suggested that Paradise study
the possibility of extending the entrance lane to Paradise further
west to the entrance of the Estero Life Center.
As a result of the meeting Paradise’s engineers will begin
preparing engineering plans for the intersection, so that the
improvements can be implemented and Paradise can obtain County
approval of Development Orders for their first projects, including a
Walgreen’s drugstore on the northwest corner of US 41 and Williams
At present the eastbound left turn lane on the west side of the
Williams Road/US 41 intersection provides space for only 4 vehicles.
Oftentimes there are so many vehicles waiting to turn north on US 41
that vehicles seeking to enter the Albertsons/Coconut Point Ford
entrance road are blocked by these vehicles, thus backing up all
westbound Williams Road traffic. In addition, one east bound vehicle
blocks all east bound right-turn vehicles from turning south on US
For over a year an ECCL committee with representatives from
West Bay Club,
Pelican Sound and Fountain Lakes has been working with the developers of
Paradise Shoppes and
West Bay Club and county staff to
find a solution to these growing traffic problems.
On November 29, 2004 the BOCC voted to require, as a condition of the
Paradise Shoppes rezoning, that the project's Williams Road exit
shall not include a left turn exit until the Williams Road
intersection with US 41 has been improved satisfactorily.
Subsequently the ECCL Committee, County staff and the two developers
met to develop intersection improvements that would alleviate these
problems and satisfy County standards.
As a result of this effort the developers of
have committed to finance the phase one improvement (described
below) at an estimated cost of about $500,000. In addition the
developers of West Bay have committed to contributing 15 foot of
land adjacent to their sales center in order for another lane to be
added to the south side of the intersection and to work with the
community and the County to relocate the south access road to the
west end of their property all at a cost of about $150,000. The
leaders of Fountain Lakes have agreed to this relocation.
The relocation of the Albertson's entrance will take considerable
time because some wetlands are in the path of the new entrance and
will require South Florida Water District and Federal EPA approval.
As a result the intersection improvements are planned to be
implemented in two phases. Phase one would add three new lanes to
the intersection east of the existing Albertsons entrance road. The
five lanes in this area would consist of:
- One west bound lane
- Two east bound left turn lanes
- One east bound through lane, and
- One east bound right turn lane.
In addition Williams Road's signalization would add a left turn
The second phase would relocate the Albertsons entrance to the rear of the
West Bay property; extend the eastbound right turn lane; extend the eastbound
left turn lanes and move the Albertson's left turn lane to the west of the
Paradise Shoppes access road.
Commissioner Bob Janes and
others are leading the effort to ensure that the 91,000 acre Babcock
Ranch in northern Lee County and southern Charlotte County is
preserved through purchase by one or more public agencies. If you
agree that this area needs to be preserved please for environmental
and water supply reasons take the time to review the Babcock
Preservation Partnership website at
communicate your concerns with the key State and County
decision-makers listed on the site now.
The Growth Management Act
recently approved by Gov. Bush contains a provision establishing a
Florida Impact Fee Review Task Force. This 15 member body will
review the use of impact fees by Counties and Cities throughout the
state. In high growth areas like Lee County these fees provide a
substantial part of the funding necessary for the expansion of our
road system, park and school facilities. If those fees are cut back,
as some in the legislature and in the building industry would like,
either the ability of the County and our Cities to fund their road
and park programs will be greatly reduced or our property taxes will
Dan DeLisi of the Bonita Bay Group has been appointed to the Task
Force. The Task Force recently held its first meeting and must file
its report in February 2006 so that the Legislature can further
address this issue during the Spring Legislative session. If you
want to track the activities of the Task Force you may do so by
accessing the following website: