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‘Catch the Vision’

By Staff | Nov 17, 2015

Cape Coral’s potential is becoming a reality – that was the word Tuesday from city officials, real estate professionals and local administrators.

Presented by Raso Realty and FOX 4, the 5th Annual Catch the Vision was held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Cape Christian Fellowship. The annual event kicked off with a trade show, featuring local vendors and businesses, followed by nearly a dozen presenters who discussed trends, tips and forecasts for the city.

“Every time you turn the corner, you see something else under construction,” Dana Brunett, the director of the city’s Economic Development Office, said. “There’s a lot of things coming together.”

“The potential has become a reality,” he added.

In the past year, the Cape has locked in new investments from companies like SeaHunter Boats and MobilMAX Technology, a Taiwan-based manufacturer set to launch its expansion into the U.S. market. Down the road, MobilMAX may build a manufacturing facility that would employ over 200 people.

Craft beer found itself at home with the opening of the Cape Coral Brewing Company and the No. 3 Craft Brews Beer Bar. Eateries like Water City Grill, Seven Oaks Woodfired Pizza & Grill and Duffy’s Sports Grill popped up, while followed stores like Wawa and ULTA Beauty were very well received.

“We want to put a road map in place that tells us how we want to buildout Cape Coral,” Brunett said.

As for what is coming down the pipeline, the Cape will soon get its first Buffalo Wild Wings and a second Panera Bread is planned on Cape Coral Parkway. Fort Myers-based The Cigar Bar will expand across the river, and Wicked Dolphin will open its 200-seat restaurant along Southeast 47th Terrace.

Anticipated to open in the first quarter of 2016, Big Blue Brewing will feature handcrafted food using ingredients from local farmers and craft beers brewed on site. It will offer a full liquor bar and tours.

The long-standing Cape Coral Italian American Club will be transformed into Cape Cabaret. The public club plans to feature music five nights a week with live bands from the 1950s to 1990s.

On a larger scale, Brunett talked about Liberty Village on Pine Island Road, which is expected to consist of assisted living and over 300 apartments. He pointed out Bimini Basin and Village Square.

Other projects covered by the evening’s presenters included the Gulf Coast Humane Society’s Cape shelter, the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village’s Conference Center, the Resort at Tranquility Lake and Gulf Coast Village’s Palm View. There was also a presentation for the Seven Islands plan.

Anticipated to be completed in three to five years, the animal shelter will cost about $3 million. Featuring 8,000 to 10,000 square feet with room for expansion, it will offer a spay-neuter clinic, a veterinary clinic and an adoption center. Officials estimate it will save over 1,000 pets annually.

“What the resort lacked was meeting space,” Eric Ashton, the Westin’s general manager, said.

The Conference Center will be a self-contained state-of-the-art facility with approximately 38,000 square feet. It will add more than 33 full-time jobs and is projected to increase room occupancy by an additional 9,000, resulting in 15,000 new visitors each year. Construction will start in June or July.

To be located on a 90-acre lake in the northwest Cape, off of Burnt Store Road, the Resort at Tranquility Lake has been described as a luxury five-star motor coach resort. With lots and rental cottages, the development will feature a club house and a boat marina, even dog-cat day care.

Duane Truitt, vice president of the development company, emphasized that it is not an RV park. He explained that the motor coaches owned by target market are worth $400,000, up to $3 million.

Construction is expected to begin on the project in 2016.

Administrators at Gulf Coast Village explained that the Cape assisted living facility is undergoing a multi-phrase project. Breaking ground last month, Palm View will feature 80 assisted living units and 49 memory care support units. Construction on the Palm View portion should be done in 17 months.

Located in the city’s northwest quadrant, the Seven Islands project is being designed with the aim of being the “economic and recreational heart” of the area. Urban planner Greg Stuart explained that the goal is to create livable places, parks and recreation public spaces, linear parks, mixed use and more.

He compared to end result to something along the lines of Tarpon Point or Cape Harbour.

The evening’s audience was also given a look at new construction trends and the market overview. Single-family home permits for the Cape have increased 63 percent in the last year. Justin Einstein, of Team Aubuchon, noted that the second half of the year’s jump is likely due to energy code changes.

The median price of homes in the city has risen over the last year, with more than 300 spec homes available for sale at prices ranging from as affordably low as under $100,000, to over $2 million.

Unemployment in the Cape is at 4.8 percent, as compared to 5.1 percent nationally.

As for home trends, people are seeking more contemporary clean lines with simple structure. Energy efficiency continues to be a big seller for those house hunting, as well as outdoor living spaces.

“That is a trend that will never, never, never go away here in Southwest Florida,” he said.

Looking forward to 2016, Einstein predicted that some trends include wireless access points, tech savvy products, new construction prices on the rise, home values on the rise and maximum livability.

Admission to the Annual Catch the Vision was $10 and included food and drinks.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Cape Coral Caring Center.