‘Catch The Vision’ sparks optimism for Cape Coral’s development future
Published On: November 18, 2016 Posted by: Pat Eberle
Raso Realty Hosted the 6th Annual Catch the Vision Event on Tuesday!
What started six years ago as a simple way to show that Cape Coral was working its way out of the worst recession in its history, has turned into a bona fide “must attend” event, as this year’s event was standing room only as over 500 people packed Cape Christian Fellowship to get information on projects and developments coming to Cape Coral in the near future.
Those who attended were not disappointed as details on a wide range of upcoming projects were revealed, as well as the condition of the current, local real estate market.
In a twist from the standard presentation format,the evening’s program was led by BJM Consultants President and former Cape Coral Mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz and Lee Swaffield of Fidelity National Title, who anchored the “news” broadcasts from their desk on the stage, bouncing between live interviews on the stage and going to locations across Cape Coral via video to hear of exciting developments coming to Cape Coral from those locations.
The evening’s presentations kicked off with City Manager John Szerlag on location at SE 47th Terrace, where he announced plans for a complete streetscaping project for SE 47th Terrace from Coronado Boulevard to Del Prado Boulevard. The $8 million project will include brick pavers, new landscaping, curbing, bulb-outs, street lighting, crosswalks, and more. Calling the busy street the actual heart of the South Cape, Szerlag said the project would have a long lasting effect for not only the South Cape but, Cape Coral as a whole, “It is going to rock and be the best streetscape project in the region.”
From there, Szerlag, joined Mazurkiewicz and Swaffield on stage to announce some other upcoming projects the city is involved in like, the development of the Seven Islands properties in Northwest Cape Coral, Bimini Basin, and bringing the city water and sewer north of Pine Island Road.
In addition, Szerlag also announced the creation of Master Economic Development, Bike-Ped, and the recently approved Parks Master Plan, that will seek voter approval on next November’s ballot to fund a portion of the over $55 million in the plan’s parks projects that include the construction of Festival Park in North Cape Coral.
Also from the City of Cape Coral, Economic Development Manager Dana Brunett announced that commercial building permits in the city are currently up 62% year over year, and the city’s commercial tax base has increased from 8% to 12%.
Brunett told the crowd that things are beginning to heat up along Pine Island Road, revealing that grocery store chain Aldi will be opening a location on Pine Island Road in the building formerly home to Circuit City.
Also on Pine Island Road, Brunett said that two automotive dealerships would soon be opening, as well as a 46,000 square foot retail center at the corner of Pine Island Road and Nicholas Parkway. Joining the Pine Island Road development will be Liberty Village, an assisted living facility, and an over 300 unit apartment complex, which Brunett says will begin to address the city’s need for more workforce housing.
In other areas of the city, Brunett announced a new national chain grocery store would be opening in Coralwood Mall, and touted the arrival of Florida Cancer Specialists, who will construct a 27,000 square foot building in the Veterans Investment Zone in Northeast Cape Coral near the Veterans Clinic. Also in that area will be the construction of a new industrial park that will be built on 25 acres in the Kismet Parkway/Littleton Road area.
Brunett also touted the arrival of national advertisingagency Caldwell & Kerr Advertising. Representing over 300 auto dealers from Florida to Hawaii, the agency recently relocated their headquarters and branches, Moore & Scarry, DyGen, and Sparq Social Media to Cape Coral. With the relocations of the branches, the agency brought 75 employees with an average of $54,000 annual salary to Cape Coral, and hope to double their employee base in the city over the next year, and add a full production studio to their Cape Coral location.
One of the “live” remotes that garnered the most attention during Tuesday’s event was from D.R. Horton’s, Division President Jonathon Pentecost, who provided an update on the national builder’s attempt to purchase the 170-acre former Golf Club property. Since revealed, the proposed acquisition has created a great deal of controversy with many of those living around the property coming out against the proposed development of single-family homes on the property.
Pentecost explained that since D.R. Horton announced plans to purchase the property, he and other company representatives have met with surrounding residents, local government leaders, and other stakeholders to hear their concerns. Based on the feedback, Pentecost said the company has scaled back the project including removing all multi-family aspects the project initially included.
Regarding one of the bigger projects coming to Cape Coral, the Westin’s Lauren Hagen and Stephanie Eakin provided an update on the Marina Village Conference Center. Hagen informed the crowd that ground was recently broken on the 42,000 square foot conference center that will be located at Tarpon Point. Hagen showed a rendering of the building and said when complete, the $15 million project would be a game changer for Cape Coral and have the ability to host a variety of functions with up to 1,800 people.
Developer Dan Creighton announced from the new Sam’s Club property that a new company recently signed a lease to join Buffalo Wild Wings, Culver’s, and Urgent Care at the Pine Island Road location.
Creighton also talked about the future development of the former city property located at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard, that his company recently purchased, a new gun range located on Del Prado Boulevard, and a new grocery store and restaurant that could be constructed in the Bimini Basin area of the South Cape.
Speaking of the Bimini Basin area, Planner Annette Barbaccia, representing RTS of Cape Coral, owners of over 20 acres of land just east of Four Freedoms Park, provided a vision for the property that included a possible alternate route to Cape Coral Parkway filled with a mix of uses including hotels, restaurants, multi-family dwellings, and waterfront attractions. Barbaccia told Mazurkiewicz that the total value of the projects RTS is proposing would be in the neighborhood of $350 million.
Other speakers at this year’s Catch The Vision included;
Gloria Tate, who spoke on behalf of the proposed Cape Coral Animal Shelter, whose members picked up the initiative after Gulf Coast Humane Society decided against moving forward with the project to bring Cape Coral its first no-kill animal shelter.
Tate announced at the event that the group has entered into the same agreement with the city to lease property near Sun Splash Waterpark to construct the shelter.
Gulf Coast Village Executive Director Kevin Ahmadi gave those in attendance a glimpse of what the retirement community’s new Palm View facility being built on Santa Barbara Boulevard will look like when completed. Ahmadi said with the new facility, Gulf Coast Village will have a total of 414 units that provide a full spectrum of senior care.
Dan Termani of Big Blue Brewing touted the recent opening of the brew pub in the old bingo hall location on SE 47th Terrace providing a full menu, six varieties of craft beers made at the location, live music, a full menu and more.
Justin Einstein, gave a rundown of the current real estate market and trends saying this year has shown a steady but, slower growth than last year, which Einstein explained was a good thing saying hopefully the city will not follow in the recent rapid climb that created an even more rapid decline in the local real estate market.
Einstein also said smart homes would continue to become more the standard than the exception when it comes to new home construction.
Kirby Companies announced plans to expand their existing storage facilities and build new locations in the near future.
At the conclusion of the event, organizer Gloria Tate said this year’s event provided not only a great deal of information but, an astounding turnout, “This was by far the most people we have had attend the event since we started six years ago. It well exceeded our expectations. The crowd seemed very excited and it certainly put a positive light on Cape Coral moving forward for 2017 with a lot of possibilities for new growth and jobs.”