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An apartment developer is hoping to get the combined 31.5 acres at the southeast corner of Winkler Road and Gladiolus Drive in south Fort Myers rezoned to commercial before buying it.  

Birmingham, Alabama-based Arlington Properties is looking to build a 319-unit apartment complex with a 4.68-acre lake fronting Summerlin Road and a commercial/retail building at the southeast corner of Winkler and Gladiolus, public records show. The developer did not return calls seeking comment. 

A Lee County hearing examiner recommended approving the project July 14. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has yet to vote on the rezoning, and a voting date has yet to be set.  

The land has been used for farming, both plant nurseries and U-Pick produce operations for decades but has been in the works to be something other than a farm for a while.  

In 1993, the Lee County commission approved the rezoning of the land from agricultural to mixed-used commercial, with “Summerlin Towne Centre” proposed shopping center that never came to fruition. 

There are two parcels, with two owners, that would be combined into one if Arlington Properties decides to purchase the land and proceed with the apartment complex.  

The western portion at 8691 Gladiolus is 13 acres and owned by R&K Farms LLC. The eastern portion at 8591 Gladiolus is about 18.55 acres and owned by Margie Geddes, who bought it in March 1994 for $1.5 million, property records show.  

Just to the east, an 11.6-acre parcel was bought by Florida Storage Gladiolus LLC for $4 million. That land has been cleared, and a new self-storage facility has broken ground there at the southwest flyover intersection of Summerlin Road and Gladiolus.  

Rumors circulated that Costco was looking to move from its U.S. 41 location in south Fort Myers to the parcel being considered Arlington Properties. Costco’s parent company, based in Washington, declined to comment.  

But Barry Bland, general manager of the Fort Myers Costco store, confirmed there’s no news about any imminent relocation of the store.  

“We’re not at that point,” Bland said.  

Bland said the rumors didn’t surprise him, adding  he has been scouting other locations because the current one has a cramped parking lot and could use more space inside. But there isn’t any alternative for Costco to relocate at this time.  

“I think right now, for how our business is going, when we move, it’s always a big deal,” Bland said. “Everyone you talk to, there’s always a rumor. Until they get something done, there’s really nothing to report.” 

Big-box retailers are running into challenges in finding land to build new stores, especially in the interior of the region, west of Interstate 75, area land brokers told Gulfshore Business 

“Obviously, 41 is over with,” said John Mounce, founding partner of the LandQwest brokerage company. “For a box the size that we’re talking about— any of those guys— you’re looking at 20 acres. You cannot find 20 acres with 41 frontage in the corridor you would want to be in. You can’t even assemble it. It’s getting really difficult.”  

Mounce pointed to Home Depot getting ready to build a new store not near U.S. 41, but instead near I-75.  

Justin Thibaut, the CEO of LSI Companies, was asked if Costco can’t go on the farmland, where can it go?  

There aren’t many options.  

“My answer to that is I would be shocked if there’s any piece that’s more than 10 acres in all of Lee County that’s not being eyeballed for apartments,” Thibaut said. “Costco is a big land eater. That’s not a small parcel that they need for all of the parking that they require. Right now, they’re up against the guys who are doing multifamily, mixed-use retail. They’re paying more per acre, more per square foot than a traditional big-box store does.  

“Maybe five-to-seven years ago, Costco could have done something there. But we have pressure on available housing now. That’s driving up rents, which is driving up what multifamily buyers can pay for the dirt.”  

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