A project envisioned almost a decade ago that has yet to come to fruition is back on the table.
The development Entrada, a project that got put in hiatus when the housing market collapsed, is re-woring its way through the permitting process.
The Planning & Zoning Commission last week approved a special exception for up to 30 model homes and three gate houses for the project approved for up to 721 homes at Del Prado and De Navarra boulevards.
The ordinance kept the original requests in place from when the development was first approved on 2005, so that when a builder comes in, there will be no delays, according to Paul Hardy, project manager for Coco.
"There are still some issues, including opening the roadway at De Navarra Parkway. Because of a PDP that restricts the number of homes that can be built until the roadway is opened," Hardy said. "We hope that will happen in the next 60 days."
Hardy added that 60 percent of the infrastructure is complete, with the remaining to be installed pursuant to a performance bond by the original developer.
This is great news for a city that continues to rely heavily on housing and development as a source of jobs and revenue.
"It's nice to see movement out there. Someone has confidence again in the Cape. It shows we're moving again," said Mo Beneke, executive director of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association. "Three gates houses and 30 models from a developer who'd been involved for a long time, it's good."
Particularly good is that the 30 model homes could potentially be built by multiple developers, providing even more opportunities for the industry.
"Having different builders will give Entrada variety instead of everything looking the same," said Patti Martin, Planning & Zoning chairperson. "It will give each neighborhood its own distinctive flavor."
Hardy said the homes could have numerous builders, but added it could also be one developer offering a variety products.
"It's a large community with 721 lots. To get maximum absorption, you need different product lines," Hardy said. "When the market was hot, a builder had three or four product lines."
The city council gave Entrada the green light in 2005. However, the housing bust soon followed and Entrada was postponed before a single house was built.
Priority Developers of Tampa had the property foreclosed on in 2007. BBX Capital Corp seized the 317-acre site in 2009 after Priority failed to make payments on a $31.1 million mortgage.
Coco of Cape Coral bought the property in March 2012 for $6.2 million, or at about 20 cents on the dollar from its foreclosed mortgage.
"We saw the Publix constructed at Del Prado and 41 and that was a good sign that there is potential in the area," Hardy said. "The price was attractive and we thought the recession was coming to an end. It was a crap shoot, but our timing was good."
The roadway could be opened by the end of the year, as well as the bond issue resolved. When that happens, a national builder should come in and start construction, Hardy said.
"We've had interest, we just haven't put the property on the market yet. Our goal is to eliminate the issues so they can build the day they close," Hardy said.
And that bodes well for the city and its still heavy reliance on housing.
"This will be beneficial to the city and the building industry. We're delighted to see it get going again," Martin said. "It will really spur growth in that part of town."