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Village Square receives extension from council

Development order was set to expire April 26

April 22, 2014
Pine Island Eagle

Village Square, a $150 million transformational project located in the CRA district in Cape Coral's downtown, received a two-year extension from City Council Monday for its development order which was set to expire on April 26.

The city first approved the project in 2010. With the deepening economic downturn, new state statutes in 2011 extended the expiration date to 2014.

Council expressed concern about the project's financial viability after four years and without an updated financial plan from the developer, Robert Lee. Staff wanted some assurances since the project is based on Tax Increment Funds (TIF) which the city agreed to provide Lee upon completion. They also are concerned because only one-third of the $39 million needed to complete the first two phases of the project has been raised.

Project consultant Joe Mazurkiewicz informed council that a number of factors caused the developers not to have the financial figures ready, which is the exact reason for the two-year extension request.

He said the time was necessary to line up investors for the first two phases and identify the end users so the buildings do not stand empty.

"I can't imagine not getting behind this project," said Council-member Jim Burch. "We (city) get a parking garage out of it if only the first two phases go up."

Faced with council's concerns, Mazurkiewicz later proposed that those financials would be presented when the project was ready to pull permits or at the end of one year, whichever came first.

"If we don't perform to your satisfaction at that time, we're done. It goes away," said Mazurkiewicz.

Council ultimately voted 6-2 on the extension request with Mayor Marni Sawicki and Councilmem-ber Rana Erbrick casting the dissenting votes. Council also demanded that the developer own all of the necessary property for the project, including the recently vacated Fifth-Third Bank property at 859 Cape Coral Parkway.

Village Square consists of 251,000 square feet of non-residential space spread over five structures plus 152 dwelling units.

The entire complex takes up four city blocks with frontage on Cape Coral Parkway and Southeast 47th Terrace. There are three six-story buildings, a seven-story building and a six-story parking garage for retail and offices, a public square and two optional residential towers.

The 938-space parking garage will have 127 spaces dedicated as public spaces.

The proposal indicated some 900 direct and indirect jobs would be created by the project.



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