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Development plans for the South Cape

By Staff | Apr 8, 2021

The South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency Board has taken a first step to bring two major projects to Cape Coral’s old downtown.

The board approved non-binding letters of intent this week for a pair of unrelated developments, each calling for hundreds of apartments built over businesses like shops and restaurants, and each accompanied by multi-story parking garages.

The two developments, Project Hoosier and Project Dolphin, or Bimini West, have a combined projected construction cost of $114 million and are exactly the type of projects the redevelopment agency was created to garner.

The developers of Project Hoosier, Flaherty & Collins Development, say they have entered into contracts to purchase the undeveloped and vacant properties at 845-851 Cape Coral Parkway, East.

Project Hoosier is a proposed mixed use development in what officials call “the heart of the CRA.”

It is to be located on the block bordered by Southeast 47th Terrace and Cape Coral Parkway to the front and rear between Southeast 8th and 9th Place and calls for 280 “luxury apartment units” above 18,000 square feet of retail and office space as well as a 525-stall parking garage with the first two levels — 125 spaces — to be reserved for the public.

Amenities for the apartment residents are to include a pool and courtyard with the submitted project illustrations also depicting lush street landscaping and, possibly, outdoor dining.

To foster the project, the CRA and the developer intend to enter into an agreement that Flaherty & Collins can use to help secure financing for the project. The CRA also calls for the city to provide financial assistance, with an April 2022 commencement date contingent on the city agreeing to loan the CRA $10 million for the construction of the parking garage. The CRA pledges to then pay the city back by giving the city the difference in tax money currently received based on the valuation of the undeveloped land and taxes received when that land is developed. The CRA is authorized to use this “tax increment financing” to foster development. The city also will complete — and pay for — offsite utility improvements to support the development.

In exchange, the developer will construct the project as described. The cost is estimated at $64 million with the developer to fund approximately $54 million “through a combination of debt and equity.”

The developer will construct the parking garage and manage it, reserving the 125 public stalls in perpetuity “at no additional cost to the CRA.”

The agreement will not move forward until Flaherty & Collins acquire the property.

Project Dolphin, or Bimini West, is a similar vertical mixed use development, this one to be built on 5.5 acres fronting Cape Coral Parkway with waterfront views of Bimini Basin to the rear.

Bimini West, to be developed by Roers Development LLC — which recently built the 319-unit Cape at Savona development — calls for approximately 185 apartments, a 375-slot parking garage and 25,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor, facing Cape Coral Parkway near the so-called “Twin Towers” condominiums.

The developer plans a pedestrian promenade from the parkway to the waterfront where plans also call for an 8,000-square-foot waterfront restaurant. The developer plans to work with four entities — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state, Lee County and, finally, the city — to secure permission for the boat slips for customer use.

The CRA would rebate a maximum of $7 million in TIF financing over 13 years to help fund the project.

Roers Development says it should have plans submitted to the city by late summer and plans to have construction completed by the end of 2024 with the project to be finished in two phases. According to the presentation made to the city Wednesday, Roers Development would build the mixed use building, parking garage and the waterfront restaurant with the current property owner to hold on to the phase II site until the developer gets permits for the seawall upgrades, dock and boat slips.

A TIF agreement is expected to come back to the CRA board in the fall “once the developer demonstrates finance commitments.”

The project is estimated to cost $50 million, excluding the cost of the land assemblage. The city projects that the taxes to come from increased valuation will exceed the amount to be rebated to the developer by $5 million over 20 years. The CRA also expects to gain $1.5 million in impact fees from the developer before the project breaks ground.

Add in the 700 or so construction and permanent retail and service jobs and an estimated $2.4 million to $4 million annually from sales tax revenue and CRA officials said the projects look enticing, indeed.

Those who read these pages regularly probably know well our focus on costs to the taxpayers.

And here it’s greater than the amount outlined in the presentation as the city has invested significantly in infrastructure in the South Cape to make these types of projects possible and will invest again for these two on the table.

Still, we do agree that this is the type of development that ultimately will benefit taxpayers.

One, these types of projects spur like projects.

Like projects, which consolidate density and include a commercial component, provide diversification to the city’s tax base, still too heavily reliant on single-family property owners funding the bulk of the city of Cape Coral’s operational costs.

City staff summed up Bimini West this way: They believe the project will have a catalytic impact on future development opportunities.

We do hope so. For the South Cape — and for the city as a whole — that would be a good thing.

A very good thing.

The caveat?

The city must keep a stringent eye on incentives — i.e. subsidies and peripheral infrastructure costs — to make sure projects of any type are win-win.

That means heavy vetting, hard questions and a detailed benefits-cost analysis.

We look forward to these two projects — which would be the first such developments since the CRA was formed for just this purpose more than 34 years ago — breaking ground.

–Breeze editorial