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Fort Myers’ Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board unanimously recommended approval of an 18-month extension to both the commencement and completion dates of The Irving Downtown apartment complex in downtown Fort Myers. Approval will extend the start-of-construction date of May 31 and the completion date of December 31, 2025.  

The Irving Downtown, a 12-story building planned for 98 units, is on the northeast corner of Bay and Lee streets in the historic River District. The CRA Board of Commissioners approved a $4 million tax increment rebate for the project in 2021. 

The complex will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments with amenities, including a swimming pool, social spaces and a self-service pet spa. 

If approved by the board of commissioners, it will be the project’s second extension after receiving one in the summer of 2022 when Fort Myers City Council approved rezoning from urban center to urban core for the site.

The latest extension request is due to a delay in converting concrete poles and hanging wires to underground utilities, developer Rebekah Barney said in an April 14 letter sent to the CRA. 

Communication with the city and Florida Power and Light began in November 2021, Barney said. The letter states that while FPL proved immediately responsive in facilitating the required underground conversion, the Irving team was unable to schedule a meeting with the city until July 2022. 

Since then, the issue has persisted. The project is in a position where construction can begin without the underground utility conversion, but Barney remains hesitant. 

“From a construction standpoint, we could go ahead and start construction, at least the pilings today,” she said. “We’ve gone through that work. We’ve spent about $3 million on architectural and engineering. We have received term sheets from construction lenders, but without having a direct path from FPL on when we can move those lines, we don’t have a direct timeline of when we can start vertical construction.” 

Barney doesn’t want to mobilize and pay for expenses just for the work to stop. “I’d want once we start, once we mobilize, we just go up and I fear that given the time we’ve already spent trying to get FPL and the city to agree to move the lines, that we would be in that predicament, and that’s just going to add unnecessary costs to the project,” she said. 

The project is currently debt-free, according to Barney. The advisory board’s recommendation of the extension will be presented to the CRA commissioners for consideration. 

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