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Horizon Council: NFM slowly moving forward

August 23, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

John Gardner, of the Horizon Council and Lee County Insurance Agency, said there are a lot of things planned for North Fort Myers but, for these things to come to fruition, there is much to be done first.

Gardner spoke to the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce at it monthly business Leaders Luncheon last week and said the Develop Lee Initiative the Horizon Council created for North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres and Dunbar has had mixed results, with Lehigh floundering as the other two areas make some some progress.

Much of Gardner's presentation centered around the market-based study done in the area that was approved by the County Commissioners in 2015, which showed the pros and cons North Fort Myers faces to improve its business climate.

Gardner said there could be a huge opportunity for the area in regards to the waterfront, provided they can get some waterfront property.

"We have about 18 miles of waterfront, but almost all of it is residential. There are a lot of people who have a problem with that because there's a shortage of public access," Gardner said. "Fort Myers' only boat ramp is going bye-bye because they're going to use it as a staging area for the construction of a new hotel. They need a new boat ramp and they're looking at North Fort Myers."

The only boat ramp is at Judd Park, but that's only for kayaks or small boats, with small bridges that prevent larger boats from reaching open water, Gardner said.

Gardner said the need for sewer, especially in the commercial areas, is also crucial. The county, he said, has plenty of capacity in its sewer plant, and it's crucial for there are many development projects in the works, especially a potential mid-rise condo being planned on 15 acres of waterfront on North Key Drive.

"They presented a four-story project. I think they're going to have to go higher to get the density and money out of the project," Gardner said.

Other projects in the works include Eagles Enclave, which is near the Publix on Bayshore and Slater roads, Gully Creek which will be between Slater and Williams roads on 75 acres, and Bayshore 57 near the lumber yard, which is looking for single and multifamily homes as well as commercial.

Successes have included a new O'Reilly's Auto Parts near the Home Depot at Merchant Crossing and Realmark Warehouses south of the U.S. 41/Del Prado intersection, which is under construction.

Bayshore Garden Center has also bought land past their original location which will include an event pavilion, caf and the ability to hold weddings.

Also planned are a remodel of McDonald's, the new Ross's and division of the former Sears at Merchant into multi-units, and more storage facilities, which have taken the area by storm.

"Twice a year we get proposals for more storage facilities and somehow they all manage to get through," Gardner said.



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