An infrastructure and residential development order for 34 acres east of U.S. 41 in Estero, north of Broadway Avenue East and west of the railroad tracks, was approved by the village’s planning, zoning and design board Tuesday night.
The Downtown Estero project from Indiana-based developer Buckingham Co. will consist of three multistory buildings at 100 units each. The site is entitled to 310 units, 200,000 square feet of nonresidential and 125 hotel rooms through Lee County-approved zoning several years ago.
The developer plans on using just 30,000 square feet of the nonresidential land-use entitlement. Two buildings will be mixed-use with 5,000 square feet of nonresidential uses on the ground level while the third building will house community amenities, including a public pocket park, two pickleball courts, a pool area and a public passive park at Broadway Avenue.
Regarding the name of the project, village Community Development Director Mary Gibbs said the developer will be changing the name from Downtown Estero to relieve some of the community’s confusion. “This was the project name when this project was submitted to Lee County for zoning many years ago,” she said. “The applicant told us they’re going to change the name because it’s really going to create too much confusion and it’s not really the downtown of Estero.”
The infrastructure development order includes lighting, storm drainage, utilities, roads, parking and landscaping.
There will be on-street parking, interior parking areas and garages at the rear of the buildings. There will also be a water main loop from U.S. 41 to Broadway and a new sewer pump station to serve Downtown Estero and BroadWay Shoppes.
The neighboring community to the Downtown Estero development, Cypress Bend, had residents who expressed concerns about traffic from the mixed-use development. David Ditomaso said his community already deals with long wait times and traffic.
“With 300 minimum cars added to the traffic pattern going to work in the morning or coming home in the evening, it’s just going to add more confusion and more delay in getting out,” he said.
Cypress Bend resident Lee Palmer echoed Ditomaso’s concern with traffic congestion. “I don’t know how you’re going to get out of there at rush hour or anytime by looking at it now,” he said. “I’d like to get home to no accidents. So, it’s going to be real, real tough there to do anything further with that many more vehicles. It’s too many people, too small of an area.”
Gibbs said while she understands the traffic concerns, there is little the village can do.
“Everybody that goes on 41 knows that the traffic is bad and Broadway is a problem and you do have to wait,” she said. “That’s controlled by the Florida Department of Transportation. They make the decisions on where the lights go and how the traffic is going to flow and whether you get a turn lane.”
Due to the size of the development, the project will have two access points, one off Broadway and one off U.S. 41. The buildings, which will feature Mediterranean Revival architecture, will be two shades of beige, with trim paint in two shades of brown and a terra cotta-blend concrete barrel tile roof.
The infrastructure and residential development orders were both approved unanimously, with the board adding that a fence be built between Downtown Estero and Cypress Bend.