Village Square: What you need to know about Cape Coral's downtown high-rise development
A rundown of who's who in Cape Coral's City Council.
The developer planning to bring high-rise condos, shops, restaurants, office space and a parking garage to downtown Cape Coral says crews will break ground on the long-discussed project sometime in the next couple of years.
Cape Coral City Council approved the $130 million Village Square project back in 2010. The development will occupy the block between SE 8th Court and SE 9th Place, bordered by Cape Coral Parkway to the south and SE 47th Terrace to the north.
But the recession and a change in a federal program the developers are using to help fund the project have pushed the plans back, as City Council has extended the project over the years.
The New York-based developer behind the project, Robbie Lee, said it will ultimately benefit the Cape’s growing population.
“The project is a magnificent project,” Lee said. “The Cape really needs it with the parking.”
According to a website set up by the developer's consultants, there will be three 6-story buildings off Cape Coral Parkway, one 7-story building off SE 47th Terrace and a 6-story parking garage below two 8-story residential towers. The project will feature "three clusters of Mediterranean-style mixed-use buildings, all connected at the third-floor level by a covered walkway," the website says.
Annette Barbaccia, president of AMB Planning Consultants, Inc. and former Cape Coral city planner, said the project includes 152 multifamily units and about 250,000 square feet of commercial space, which she said can be used for office, retail or restaurants. The project's website boasts "panoramic views of the Caloosahatchee River and surrounding city" for the residential towers and commercial floors higher than four stories.
The city's community redevelopment agency board selected the Village Square project from several development proposals for the downtown area in 2006. The planned development project (PDP) for Village Square was set to expire on May 4 this year, but City Council voted in April to extend it until September.
City Manager John Szerlag said at a city council meeting on April 16 that this extension will give staff time to evaluate the financial obligations with the project plan.
“We’d like to have everything packaged for you for your consideration by September 1,” Szerlag told the council.
Lee said demolition of the three buildings on the property will start within a year and a half after that. It will take a minimum of six months for a structure to go up, he said.
Lee has no building permits in the city, and his demolition permit from last September expired last week, city spokeswoman Connie Barron said.
Lee said that once construction starts, the first piece to go up will be the 60,000-square-foot, six-story building on the southwest corner of the 4-acre lot, with a Fifth Third Bank on the ground floor. The parking garage will go up next, he said. (The full layout of the project is available on the website's site plan page.)
Szerlag said it's vital to have the parking garage constructed early in the process because it's important for the city's streetscape project on SE 47th Terrace.
Lee said $66.5 million of the project comes through the federal government's EB-5 program. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.
Barbaccia said the area wouldn’t qualify for the same funding if they applied today, because the federal government changed the rules of the program in 2015. She said the change led to a rush of applications from around the country, which slowed the feds' processing time.
“I think it will be excellent for the community and the city,” said District 1 council member John Gunter, whose district includes the downtown area. “I would love to see it go forward.”