Best Buy sign sticking out too much, residents say

Tom Milton is thinking of skipping his morning cup of coffee.

The Marsh Landing resident said the bold yellow and blue Best Buy sign at Coconut Point Town Center, which is directly across from his community on U.S. 41 in Estero, is more than enough of a jolt to get him going.

“What a way to wake up in the morning,” Milton said with a mock shudder Wednesday evening at the Estero Design Review Committee meeting.

It glares at you, said his wife, Nancy Milton, who was prepared to boycott the store.

Milton offered to write to The Simon Property Group, the developer of Coconut Point Town Center, and Best Buy telling them what he thinks of the sign.

He won’t have to.

The EDRC voted unanimously to send Lee County and Simon letters “in the strongest language” objecting to the Best Buy sign, which they say is not back-lit, a requirement of county land development codes specific to Estero, and is likely too big.

The EDRC is a volunteer committee that reviews development designs in Estero and makes recommendations to the county.

No representatives from Simon or Best Buy were at the meeting. However, Tom Schneider, executive vice president of Simon, told the EDRC in an e-mail that he was also surprised at the Best Buy sign and was willing to work on a compromise, said Gordon Lyons, co-chair of the EDRC.

The Estero Design Review Committee plans on meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the aesthetics of the new Best Buy building and its big blue and yellow sign. County officials have refused to step in and mediate the dispute, as they say it should be settled between committee members, Simon Properties and Best Buy.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI, Daily News

The Estero Design Review Committee plans on meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the aesthetics of the new Best Buy building and its big blue and yellow sign. County officials have refused to step in and mediate the dispute, as they say it should be settled between committee members, Simon Properties and Best Buy.

When Simon applied for permits to build the center portion of the 500-acre Coconut Point, the county and the EDRC agreed to let the developer form internal design review committees to review projects and come up with a set of standards that equal or exceed county standards. Simon makes quarterly updates to the EDRC.

However, this is the third time in three months that EDRC members have taken issue with the progress at the mixed-use development. Last month, Schneider agreed to beef up landscaping along U.S. 41 that the EDRC thought did not meet the high standards of Estero.

The EDRC also objected to the sign at the Bed Bath & Beyond store at Coconut Point, which featured white letters on a black background. After they voiced their complaints, the black portion of the sign was taken down.

Now, it’s time to fix the Best Buy sign, said Lyons.

“I don’t care how it happened. The point is what do we do from here,” he said.

EDRC members agreed that the yellow, tag-like part of the sign is likely within the 300-foot maximum in county codes. However, they consider the blue background, which stretches across most of the front of the building, to be part of the sign.

That would make the sign more than twice the county limits, so EDRC members want the blue completely gone.

The outside of the building is also six colors, when the Simon development codes specifically state only three colors can be used on the outside of the building, members said. The outside of the building also does not have the Mediterranean style required by county codes for Estero, they said.

If the Best Buy sign is not changed, it could set a dangerous precedent, said Al O’Donnell, an EDRC member.

“People will think they can do whatever they want,” he said. “How do you think Office Max and PetSmart (at Coconut Point) will feel after they toned down their signs?”

EDRC members are hoping the county will agree to withhold a certificate of occupancy for Best Buy until the sign is changed.

This will likely not be the last bump in the road for Coconut Point, which is scheduled to open completely in the fall, said Tom O’Dea, co-chair of the EDRC.

“There will be more issues. Simon is willing to work with us, but we had to do a little arm-twisting to get that,” he said with a smile.

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