A new type of rental community broke ground off Alico Road, east of Interstate 75, near the heart of Southwest Florida’s epicenter for growth.
The Villas of Gulf Coast’s horizontal multifamily concept is a relatively new type of housing concept for the region. Essentially, it’s standalone apartment units with each having its own small backyard. Those, like the units, range in size depending on the number of bedrooms. Backyards start at 300 square feet, and rental units will range from one to three bedrooms, from about 750 to 1,300 square feet.
“For a renter, what we’re providing is a lower-density option,” said Peter Olesiewicz, principal owner of Marquesa Capital Partners. “What’s the No. 1 complaint the renters have? Noise next door. People walking up and down stairs. With this, you don’t have the same types of issues with neighbors or noise. You can open up the back door and let the dog out. You can have a backyard barbecue.”
This project is located adjacent and just east of the Esplanade development, and to the west and across the street from the new 7-Eleven at 17029 Centerplace Blvd.
The plan is to have 140 units finished by the first quarter of 2024, with the first 20 or so units ready by fall 2023.
Marquesa Capital Partners bought the 16-acre site at the southwest corner of Alico Road and Centerplace Boulevard for $2.24 million in October 2020. Marquesa’s plans to develop were set going into 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We used that timing in the market to get this under contract,” Olesiewicz said. “We closed relatively quickly by October. It took us some time to take it through the entitlement process with Lee County. From a zoning perspective, it doesn’t fit neatly into a box. Is it single-family or multifamily? They went with single-family.”
But the rents will be competitive with other market-rate, luxury apartments nearby. Las Palmas luxury apartments, less than a quarter of a mile east of the site of the Villas of Gulf Coast site, have rents ranging from $1,781 for a 722-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bath apartment to $2,990 for a 1,678-square-foot three bedroom, 2.5-bath apartment.
“You can see the premiums people will pay for the backyard,” Olesiewicz said. “There are thousands of rental units in Fort Myers. If you’re delivering a few hundred that are different, people will gravitate toward it. If you’re a pet owner, you can have your own backyard. We also will have a dog park that you can walk over to and go to if you want.”
The Villas of Gulf Coast already will have a competing type of project, just to the north. Odyssey by Soltura’s first phase is nearing completion, and Phase 2 is set to break ground soon off Forum Boulevard in Fort Myers.
“When we started, I would have told you rents would be substantially less,” Olesiewicz said. “We’re going to charge what the market is. Where that is a year from now, I would stay in line with what Soltura is charging. That would be my best guestimate. It’s going to be offering a luxury.”