The Shops at Harbor Palms reaches full occupancy
The Shops at Harbor Palms plaza is now full.
And business owners agree that’s nothing, but a good thing.
“It’s already good. It’s already really busy,” said the owner of Ceno Grille, George Lukas.
Hammer Construction built the 44,000-square-foot plaza on Cape Coral Parkway, just past Chiquita Boulevard, over four distinct phases.
Hammer Construction has been around since 1985 and has had a storefront in the Shops at Harbor Palms since 2007.
Each phase was 10,000 to 11,000 square feet and the last phase was finished in 2017 and 2018.
The first phase of construction began in 2004 and 2005, again in 2006 and 2007, in 2013, and finally it was completed in 2017 and 2018.
While there are 32 units, some tenants occupy three spaces. Some have two. Many have one.
There is a pet grooming, daycare, boarding and training center that recently opened called Glamour Paws.
Some other businesses include Dunkin; Carney Quality Construction; Lobster Lady; Select Physical Therapy; Leslie’s Pool Supplies Service & Repair; AraVita Smoothies, Coffee and Bubble Tea; Euro Hair Studio and RE/MAX.
Two restaurants recently moved in, too.
PanOlio opened last month and J&P Asian Fusion opened in September.
One of the newest stores is Buff City Soap.
“It does a terrific amount of business by patrons visiting the restaurants,” said property manager of 12 years Bill Chaika. “Same thing for the hair salon and the nail salon.”
Chaika, who also is the owner of Hammer Construction, says the Shops at Harbor Palms was designed to attract a round mix of tenants.
“The landlord is good at protecting the tenants,” Chaika said. “There is only one hair salon, only one Realtor, only one pizza place. It’s very important to the family (who owns the plaza) to protect the tenants. The landlord would rather have an empty space than someone who would come in and negatively impact one of the tenants.”
Most of the owners have been at the plaza for a long time, too.
“Once we have a new tenant arrive, they stay. There is a great synergy between the tenants,” Chaika said.
Chef/owner of PanOlio, Frankie Bernert, went to Ceno Grille to have his meetings while his restaurant was being built.
“You know, you get nervous. You have permit delays, construction delays,” he said. “George (the owner of Ceno Grille) always patted my shoulder and told me ‘You’re going to be fine.'”
“Everyone is really supportive.”
When patrons make soap at Buff City, they have to wait for an hour until it’s finished.
“So the owner asked me if we could work something out and send them to Pan Olio and give them a discount,” Bernert said. “I was like, ‘Yeah. I’m all for it.’
“This is how a good community works. Helping people out in good times and bad times.”
As far as what the plaza being full means for the community, Chaika says he thinks there are probably almost 400, maybe even 500 jobs directly related to the plaza.
“Lobster Lady has about 60 employees. The dentist office has probably another 40. PanOlio has 35 to 40. There are a lot of jobs created here in southwest Cape Coral in this plaza.”
When co-owner/manager Lauren Swaim opened Cape Creamery in May 2016, the other side of the plaza wasn’t built yet.
“The major places were the dentist office, Ceno Grille and Lobster Lady,” she said. “I think Dunkin was there, too.”
Since then, the plaza has only gotten busier.
“With the new restaurants that have opened, it’s definitely stayed busier in the off-season,” Swaim said.
“It’s good for us because people can just walk right down to us and get dessert after dinner now.”
Swaim also says the shopping center got full pretty quickly.
“It’s just a growing area and it’s the last part of the Cape before kind of a dead-end corner.”
Chaika says that when you see a plaza that isn’t done well, you don’t find this many long-term tenants and this type of synergy.
“If it’s really a successful plaza at its root, what you find are tenants who work extremely well together. One business helps another business that helps another.”
Towncare Dental Associates of Cape Coral has been at the Shops at Harbor Palms for about nine years.
Office manager Sarah Jefferson said their previous office was outdated so they were looking to upgrade into a better facility.
“I think it was just open,” she said. “It matched what we needed. We needed a shell that we could make into our own and make it work for our patients. There are not a lot of existing dentist offices for sale.”
Jefferson says she thought the office would get more walk-in traffic when the plaza started becoming busier and people started coming to the area more often.
“We haven’t really seen a change in that,” she said. “We do have more people calling because they see us driving by.”
When Ceno Grille opened in 2013, Lukas says the only restaurants in the plaza were his, Lobster Lady, and Little Caesars.
“Every year business has been better for me,” he said. “We’re looking for this season to be way better because we’re not just me and Lobster Lady anymore. It’s all of us.”
Lukas’ wife found the spot for Ceno Grille on a whim.
She went to the nail salon next door and the space was for sale.
“It said furnished restaurant, turn-key and we opened right away.”
Lukas says the variety of restaurants doesn’t create as much competition.
“This just brings more people,” he said. “Everyone is just happy to be here. This corner has seven banks. You want to be right near the banks, right? That was my draw.”
J & P Asian Fusion opened in September.
Suyi He, who owns the restaurant along with her husband, said she was looking at a unit near Ginger Bistro on the other side of town and comparing it their current location.
He thought this location would be better since the plaza always seemed full of people.
“The first time we looked at this location was about 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night,” she said. “I saw Lobster Lady and Ceno Grille were so packed and people were waiting outside.”
There was a large customer base and He thought the plaza could use another restaurant.
“I think in the season the restaurant will be packed but I think in the off-season we will be able to maintain business,” He said.
She thinks it’s a good thing for the community and the people who live in the area that the plaza has so many options.
“We can attract a lot of people if they want to buy a house around here,” she said. “There’s a lot of variety.”
PanOlio opened in October.
When chef/owner Bernert applied for the space about two years ago, half of the plaza was still vacant.
“Not a lot of traffic, not a lot going on,” he said.
Bernert watched it for about a year and a half and liked that it was steadily getting busier.
“Now you come in here during lunch and it’s packed, so for us, it’s only a good thing that the plaza is finished now and all the units are taken. We’re benefiting from it.”
He says his neighbors agree.
“They all say the same thing. They’re so glad all of the units are full now and there are no gaps anymore. It’ll generate more business for all of us.
“If you look at the variety of what the plaza offers, you’ve got a little but of everything now. You can go shopping, you can get your teeth fixed, you can get a haircut. That’s a lot to offer already. I think it’s a nice mixture of tenants that we have here in the plaza.”