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Weekly Roundup: March 8-12

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Lead Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

 

Catch up on this week’s top business news here. For daily information, subscribe to our free newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, and find archived newsletters at GulfshoreBusiness.com.

 

Friday, March 12

DEMAND OUTPACING SUPPLY FOR REAL ESTATE IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Hallucinogenic best describes a real estate market that feels very trippy because of the fear, flight and herd mentality triggered by the pandemic said LSI Companies founder and CEO Randy Thibault, who spoke this week during the Market Trends of Southwest Florida virtual event. People from major cities are heading in herds to Southwest Florida for sunshine, clean air and dining out, Thibault said, noting that they are snapping up properties in all price points. Lack of a state income tax in Florida and 3% interest rates have helped fuel the fire, he said. “Demand has outpaced supply,” he says. “Literally, you may have to take a number to get a new home.” More than half of the region’s new single-family and multifamily home permits were in Lee County. The more than 18,000 residential building permits issued in 2020 in Southwest Florida has not been seen since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2006, LSI Companies reports. “We know this trip won’t last forever,” Thibault says. 

 

Thursday, March 11

PARENT COMPANY OF TWO SWFL MALLS PREPARES FOR BANKRUPTCY, BLOOMBERG REPORTS

Washington Prime Group, the parent company of Port Charlotte Town Center mall in Port Charlotte, Edison Mall in Fort Myers and about 10 other malls in Florida, is preparing to file for bankruptcy after it skipped an interest payment on its debt, according to a Bloomberg report. “Washington Prime Group does not comment on market rumors,” the mall owner says. Meanwhile, Port Charlotte Town Center has nearly three dozen empty storefronts and restaurants, WINK News reports.

 

Wednesday, March 10

OXBOW BAR & GRILL TO OPEN ON MARCH 22

Luminary Hotel & Co. will open its fifth food and beverage outlet, Oxbow Bar & Grill, on March 22. Located in what was once known as the City Pier Building at 1300 Hendry Street, Oxbow Bar & Grill will bring a new experience to Downtown Fort Myers’ River District, offering a mix of causal dockside dining and shopping designed to ignite a spirit of waterfront adventure. Oxbow will be open daily for lunch and dinner, with brunch on the weekends. The casual 150-seat Oxbow Bar & Grill will offer both indoor and outdoor seating. Menu selections will include fresh oysters and other signature favorites, including fresh seafood, craft sandwiches, burgers, and steaks. Oxbow’s second floor will offer 2,400 square feet of event space for up to approximately 150 guests, featuring a patio with private access and a catering kitchen. Oxbow will offer a retail store for sportswear, gear, accessories, and destination souvenirs supplied by St. Petersburg-based Boaters Republic. A watersports outfitter with kayak and paddleboard rentals will be activated in time for summer.

 

Tuesday, March 9

FUTURE OF LEE CIVIC CENTER IN QUESTION

On Friday, Lee County government gave the go-ahead for two different options for the Lee County Civic Center — a proposal to turn the area into a hotel and retail space or a plan to keep it the way it is with improvements made to the existing building. The Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair has been a staple at the civic center for years. Kitson and Partners, the developer behind Babcock Ranch, wants to knock down the existing facility and transform the 100-acre land of the Lee Civic Center into a hotel with retail space. Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman said he favors the plan to fix the civic center, but he stressed that the county is a long way from making a decision. Both proposals now go to the county’s evaluation committee, WINK News reports.

 

Monday, March 8

FEDS ASK COLLIER COUNTY TO HOLD OFF ON DEVELOPMENT OF VILLAGES

The U.S. Department of the Interior wants a say in controversial plans to build two new villages in rural Collier County east of Golden Gate Estates. The federal agency wants the county to hold off on approving the Longwater and Bellmar projects mainly because the two villages proposed on 1,000 acres with more than 2,600 units each are too close to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Collier. Some feel the developments will displace panthers and overcrowd their neighborhoods. The developer, Collier Enterprises, will set aside 7,000 acres of land between the two villages for land preservation. Thursday’s meeting of the county’s Planning Commission drew more than 60 public speakers, but the board held off on making any decisions, WINK News reports.

 

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