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Cape to consider sale of Seven Islands to developer

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Feb 22, 2022

Seven Islands locator map. Courtesy of the City of Cape Coral


A proposal that could mean nearly 1,000 residential units, a hotel, marina, commercial village and community center for the city-owned Seven Island acreage in the northwest Cape will be discussed by Cape Coral City Council Wednesday.

Forest Development has offered to buy the 47-acre site located on Old Burnt Store Road along the North Spreader canal for $20 million to build a multi-phase project in line with a concept plan approved by Council in November 2016 and then put out for request for proposals.

The company, which submitted the top-ranked RFP, has named its proposed project Gulf Gateway Resort and Marina Village, with work to begin as early as August and going until completion of the final phase of condo construction in 2030.

Negotiations between Forest Development and the city started last September.

Council will consider the agreed-upon terms at a workshop set to begin at 2 p.m. and will give the city staff direction on how to proceed.

The city came into possession of the waterfront site comprised of seven little spill “islands” — hence the name — near Tropicana Park nearly a decade ago. The city of Cape Coral bought more than 650 acres of assorted foreclosed properties, including this one, for $13.7 million, using money from the city’s stormwater and water and sewer funds to help fund the purchase.

While the purchase was highly controversial at the time, considering the city was then still knee-deep in the Great Recession, officials say it may have turned out to be the buy of a lifetime.

The appraised value of the Seven Islands alone was $20 million as of May 2021.

Forest Development has offered $20 million and will pay cash with no financing contingency, according to the contract to be presented to Council. If approved, a $1 million refundable deposit would be made to the city within 30 days of council approval of sale and purchase contract.

After repaying the city’s stormwater and water and sewer funds approximately $3,907,731; and providing for $2.5 million in economic incentives, the city would net about $13,592, 270 on the proposed sale, depending on negotiations related to utility assessments already paid by the city or pending.

The deposit would become non-refundable after 12 months and will be applied toward the purchase price at closing.

Following closing, the buyer would be eligible for $2.5 million in economic incentives based on milestones.

If Council decides to move forward, Seven Islands first needs to be declared as surplus real property. If discussion moves forward, that is expected to happen at a council meeting in March or April. Council approval of the developer agreement could come in June or July.

Permitting and other work such as infrastructure will take up much of the first 18 months, with construction on the hotel to begin in December 2023 and be open in May 2025. Phase 1 of condos is expected to begin in early 2024, with each of the five condo phases expected to take more than two years to complete.

Work on the city’s side began in 2015, with visioning sessions and concepts drawn. While there was fear that development for the Seven Islands would be patterned after the The Westin, with 23-story buildings, the city and the Northwest Neighborhood Association agreed to build no higher than eight stories on the multi-family component of the project.

The concept approved by city council in 2016 was the D-1 concept, which would allow nearly 1,000 residential units, 45,000 square feet of commercial/office, a 240-room hotel with 25,000 square feet of meeting space, a 40,000-square-foot community center, a 280-slip marina, and much more.

Council approved an ordinance to create a special zoning district (MX7) for the Seven Islands in May 2019.

The Forest Development Gulf Gateway Resort and Marina Village proposal, as shown in its proposed development schedule, includes the marina and related land components, a hotel and various residential units including “fish houses,” townhomes and condominiums.

City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.

Previous stories include:

Seven Islands zoning, land use goes to hearing, Apr 16, 2019


First hearings on Seven Isles zoning set for Monday, Apr 12, 2019


Real estate firm eyed for Seven Islands marketing, Oct 11, 2018


Land use criteria changed for Seven Islands area, Jul 25, 2017


Council OKs design plan for Seven Islands, Nov 15, 2016


Cape Council to consider Seven Island resolution Monday, Nov 10, 2016


Council sets height limit for Seven Islands development, Nov 8, 2016


No consensus from council on Seven Islands; project manager to be hired for Bimini Basin, Aug 23, 2016


Cape to consider Seven Islands’ concepts, Aug 18, 2016


Council hears revised Seven Islands plans, Aug 4, 2016


Seven Isles concepts subject of council workshop, Apr 5, 2016


City sets up online voting feature to solicit public opinion on Northwest Cape / 7 Islands Concepts, Apr 1, 2016


NW residents pack 7 Islands town hall, Feb 19, 2016


Second session on ‘Seven Islands’ plans set, Feb 12, 2016


‘Charrette’ set: City seeks input on islands plan, Oct. 30, 2015


Northwest Cape, Seven Islands design charrette scheduled, Oct 27, 2015