Prima Luce means “first light” in Italian. But for the two 22-story condominium towers to finally see the light of day near downtown Fort Myers, the developers must dig down deep before they can build up the structure.
Jaxi Builders, based in Doral near Miami, has been drilling about 1,100 holes in the ground at the riverfront site, at 2619-2633 First St.
The groundwork began during the summer and will continue through at least the end of the year.
“It’s the same principle as digging a fence post,” said Hector Alicea, Jaxi’s general superintendent for the project.
Instead of digging a few inches into the ground, however, the Jaxi team is drilling 544 holes that will go 80 feet below the ground. The rest of the holes, which will be used to stabilize the five-story, 330-plus space parking garage, will be drilled about 60 feet below the surface.
The drill apparatus measures about 100 feet tall.
As the water comes up the hole being drilled, concrete is poured into it, said Vic Perla, the director of construction for Prima Luce, which is owned by CEO Robert MacFarlane.
MacFarlane’s company bought the two-acre parcel in March 2016 for $4.3 million.
These will be the tallest condo towers built in Fort Myers since 2004, when MacFarlane developed the nearby Beau Rivage towers. Those are also 22 stories tall.
“What you do, is you keep drilling down,” Perla said. “As you do, you keep forcing the water out. As you force the water out, you’re pushing the concrete in.”
After the concrete is poured, but before it hardens, the construction crews will insert steel bars into the concrete, further stabilizing the site after the concrete dries, Perla said.
“It’s a 24-month construction project,” Perla said. “Of that, four months is drilling. Next, will be the pile caps and the foundation walls.”
Jaxi will also have a sediment tank and filters to insure any water runoff from the site that goes back into the river is clean.
Jaxi will not begin vertical construction until at least March of next year. The completion date is slated for midway through 2024.
By then, 14 years will have passed since the last Fort Myers condo towers, the Oasis, were built. Prima Luce is marketing the newness of its project, Perla said.
A model of the finished product and sales information on the tower units is available at 2235 First St., on the corner with Hendry Street.
So far, 98 of the 220 units have sold. Prices start at $335,000 for a studio and range up to $1.2 million for a penthouse suite. The entire ground floor will be amenities, and there will be a pool facing the riverfront.
“Do you want to live in a 20-year-old tower,” Perla said, “Or do you want to live in a brand, new tower?”