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The Cape Coral Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval Wednesday for a privately initiated future land-use amendment for 25 acres of a 50-acre property at the northeast corner of Del Prado Boulevard and De Navarra Parkway. 

The proposed change for the land at 3561 De Navarra Parkway is from a future land use of mixed-use to multifamily residential, allowing for a multifamily complex with 16 dwelling units per acre for a total of 402 units with six commercial outparcels. 

City staff determined the change doesn’t prepare the city for future growth but inhibits its ability for growth by removing possible commercial land for development of multifamily.  

The area being heavily residential coupled with the city’s continuous efforts to grow and maintain its commercial base were driving factors for staff’s recommended denial of the proposed amendment. 

“The amendment that you’re looking at would strip this corridor with potential for commercial land, and when you’re stripping that, you’re eliminating things for goods and services, as well as potential job opportunities for this area of the city of Cape Coral,” Principal Planner Chad Boyko said. “Taking that away would not prepare the city for the future growth or the current growth that you’re experiencing within this area.” 

The infrastructure, including roadway capacity and utilities, is available to allow for either multifamily or commercial development.  

Staff determined the long-term welfare of the community will be hampered because of the loss of commercial that can provide for economic benefits, tax and sales revenue and employment opportunities. Additional long-term effects include longer trips for residents to nearby commercial areas. 

Applicant and owner of the property David Fahmie has been working on the project for more than a year. “The project has been dormant with no buyers willing to purchase any of the property for as long as I’ve owned it,” he said. “This property has been vacant since that period of time. It was vacant before I bought it, there has been no offers on it.” 

Fahmie said interest sparked once the retail community of buyers heard the apartment project was going to be under contract. 

“I think the biggest problem for this property, why there’s been no commercial development on this property, and this is a major problem, is we only have 220 feet of road frontage on [U.S.] 41,” he said. 

Despite its frontage on an arterial roadway, the lack of access from U.S. 41 is why Fahmie suspects no major shopping center developer had interest in the site. 

Michael Price, director of the land brokerage division for LandQwest Commercial, represents Fahmie and has been actively marketing the site for sale since 2018. 

“We have spent the last five years aggressively marketing this property far and wide trying to gain interest from qualified parties,” Price said. “Over the last five years of outreach and in-depth discussions with developers, we have had zero interest in this property with regard to building any kind of retail power center as previous plans had called for. I cannot emphasize enough the lack of interest at any level from developers for that specific use, and I can assure you we’ve tried.” 

Commissioner Jesse Marker said while he understands the city’s desire to preserve and expand commercial land in the city, this mixed-use corridor has not seen development in years. 

“It does make sense that the proposed land use change here would ultimately result in something that does look similar to the desired mixed-use if indeed the commercial outparcels are developed in the future. So not ideal, but somewhat in line with what the use I believe the city is looking for.” 

The planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the future land-use amendment to City Council in a 4-1 vote. 

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