A warehouse and distribution center measuring even bigger than the Edison Mall is in the works for the city of Fort Myers, just east of Interstate 75 and north of State Road 82.
What’s currently about 300 acres of vacant land could become the largest Amazon distribution center in Southwest Florida. It would flank and potentially surround Lexington Palms at the Forum, a 302-unit apartment complex built about 20 years ago.
A city board of adjustments meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at city hall, where a “conditional use request” hearing will be held to allow a 1,479,813-square-foot warehouse and distribution center.
The city posted signs advertising the meeting on the property Tuesday, with the incorrect date. Signs with the correct date were posted Wednesday morning.
The size of the facility will be almost a third bigger than the Edison Mall, which checks in at just more than 1 million square feet.
The land is owned by Charles Huether of Fort Myers under two companies. C-Hack LLC purchased the western chunk of land for $2.2 million in June 2003, property records show. Keystone Creek LLC bought the property just to the south of the apartment complex for $945,300 in October 2004. Keystone Creek LLC bought the largest of the involved parcels for $5.6 million in March 2004 and another parcel for $1.3 million in February 2004.
Huether and his company could not be reached for comment.
Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said he has heard that Amazon would be developing the center. “I think most people can figure it out,” he said. “At least at that meeting, they’re going to have to reveal themselves. But it’s a company that distributes stuff.
“We’re very grateful for the idea. It could be bringing in 2,000 jobs at least.”
The land is situated just northwest of where Lee County’s Six Mile Slough begins.
Amazon just opened a sort center off Alico Road adjacent to a last-mile delivery center that will open next year. Those measure more than 275,000 square feet.
Lakeland and surrounding Polk County already have experienced the development of Amazon facilities. While in office over the past nine years, Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey saw the changes. He said he liked them.
“There was not a lot of controversy one way or the other,” Lindsey said. “The elected officials embraced it for the jobs and for the tax rolls. And it’s proven to be very successful.
“All of the facilities Amazon owns in Polk County combined for about 4.5 million square feet. The value of the buildings and the equipment inside those buildings, collectively added $145 million on the tax roll. That’s the value of their assets.”
The Fort Myers site, other than the adjacent apartment complex, has few rooftops near it.
In Polk County, the delivery truck generated by Amazon matches the public’s desire for it, Lindsey said.
“The trucks come in and come out of there,” Lindsey said. “They’re throughout the community. They’re responding to customers and customer demand. Polk County is the crossroads of the state. We’ve got trucks coming through here, north, south, east and west.”
With the combined population of Lee and Collier counties eclipsing 1 million, the arrival of such a facility did not surprise Amir Neto, the director of the regional economic research institute and an assistant professor of economics at FGCU.
“There’s a big influx of new people to Southwest Florida,” Neto said. “So it does make sense for Amazon to be creating a new warehouse. It speaks to how it’s changing. If you look at the whole I-75 corridor. We have been seeing all of this supply chain with these big companies moving here. It’s going to provide people jobs, and they’re going to relocate here. We are creating enough synergies in Southwest Florida.
“If Amazon wants to continue with two-day delivery, it’s going to be important that they have logistics in the supply chain for the company there. I think it’s them pointing to continued growth.”