From January through October about 81,200 persons
visited this site to learn about Estero.During the same period in 2007 only about 66,400 persons visited the
site, thus our website traffic has increased by 22% year to year. The community groups sponsoring the
Estero Community Planning Panel
Estero Civic Association (ECA)
Estero Design Review Committee
Estero Council of Community Leaders
Greater Estero Cultural Arts Council
Throughout the past decade the Estero real estate market has been a shining
example for Florida,
both in terms of quantity and quality.
ten years ago Estero was a sleepy rural community located midway between
It consisted of some 2,400 homes in 13 residential communities plus a
few stores and filling stations.
Since then about 13,500 new homes have been constructed in spite of the
recent slowdown since 2006, of which 6,350, or 47%, are single-family homes.
Today the average building value of newly constructed homes in Estero,
(excluding the land beneath the structures), is $338,000.
That's more than double the 2000 value.
these eight years, 23 new residential communities have been completed
containing about $2.6 billion of new homes, (again excluding the value of
the underlying land.)
Between 2000 and 2004 the demand and supply of new housing in Estero seemed
to be in equilibrium with an average of 1,800 new homes a year. The
absorption rate was higher in 2000 and 2001, declined about 30% after 9-11,
but recovered in 2004.
late 2004, and the first three quarters of 2005, speculative fever struck
the Estero housing market. The number
of homes permitted in 2005 increased by nearly 1,200 over 2004. This
speculation created an oversupply of more than 1,000 new but unoccupied
units, (mostly condos), in Estero.
result of this overbuilding the number of new homes permitted declined
dramatically during 2006, 2007 and 2008. However, this three year slowdown
has provided the Estero housing market the time to absorb much of its unsold
or vacant homes.
Today housing demand and supply in Estero are almost back in equilibrium.
October 15, 2008, study of the Resale-Attached housing market in
BonitaSprings identified 1,119 MLS listings for
sale in BonitaSprings and only 316 in
the same time the 2008 Resale-Attached closings are expected to be 499 homes
in BonitaSprings and 223 in Estero
- so the Listing vs. Closing ratio is 224% in BonitaSprings
and only 142% in Estero.
addition the number of 2008 closings in Estero increased 72% over 2007.
all bodes well for the Estero condo real estate market in 2009.
While both the BonitaSprings and Estero real
estate markets are far better off than most LeeCounty
communities, it is clear from this study Estero has a much smaller housing
surplus than BonitaSprings.
fact, Estero may be the best real estate market in Lee
County. If this trend continues, in spite of
stricter mortgage lending, the surplus of Estero homes should soon be
Residential property values have declined in Estero since 2005 - as they
have throughout Florida
and the entire country. Much of this decline has been caused by homeowner
short sales to avoid foreclosure and developers discounting their asking
prices to meet loan commitments and to generate the cash flow necessary to
survive the economic down-cycle.
October 15thResale-Attached Housing Study also indicates
Estero’s “sales price to asking price” ratio actually improved
from 92.1% in 2007 to 93% in 2008.
93% ratio is equal to the 20 year average for the area and confirms the
current demand/supply equilibrium in Estero.
Meanwhile, the BonitaSpring’s “sales price to
asking price” ratio in the Resale-Attached market declined from 91.3% in
2007 to 88.6% in 2008.This
confirms the current oversupply in
addition, the average price of Resale-Attached housing declined 13% in
BonitaSprings last year but only
4% in Estero.
conclusion, Attached-Residential, the weakest segment of the Estero
housing market, appears to be at or near the point of Demand/Supply
equilibrium in this housing down-cycle. And based on these recent numbers
and previous real estate cycles, Estero’s residential values and absorption
rates should start to increase in the near future.
Commercial Real Estate Market
Since 2000, over $700 million has been invested in Estero's numerous
commercial developments, both large and small.
first major Estero commercial development during this period was the
Coconut Point Resort which had the misfortune of opening shortly after 9/11
but recovered quickly.
Miromar Outlets Mall expanded throughout this period and is now in it sixth
phase with a total of over 600,000 square feet of shopping and 140 stores.
Estero’s commercial development peaked in 2006 when $185 million was
permitted by LeeCounty. Much of this
investment was for the construction of the 1.1 million square foot, 130
store CoconutPointTownCenter which was completed in late 2007.
present the Estero community contains about 3.6 million square feet of
commercial space with over 2.1 million located along US 41 and 1.5 million
along Corkscrew Road.
addition four hotels containing 825 rooms were built in Estero in these
While much has been developed since 2000 Estero’s current zoning would
permit an additional 6.5 million square feet of commercial development and
1,670 more hotel rooms so there is lots of room for growth. It’s expected
the addition of the Boston Red Sox training facility in South
LeeCounty will accelerate
some of this development.
Early Community Input and
High Standards of Planning and Design
Underlie the Quality of
high quality and consistent, outstanding architecture and landscaping of
Estero’s commercial corridors is the result of the development and adoption
of the EsteroCommunity Plan in 2001. The framers of the plan,
all community volunteers, foresaw the future commercial development of
Estero and wanted the US
41 and Corkscrew Road
commercial corridors to be as beautiful as the adjacent residential
communities then under development.
Estero Community Plan established the community’s vision as follows:
“Estero’s growth will
be planned as a village, establishing defined areas for tasteful shopping,
service and entertainment, while protecting and encouraging residential
neighborhoods that encourage a sense of belonging. Weaving the community
together will be carefully crafted limitations on strip commercial uses,
inappropriate signage and certain undesired commercial uses, while
additional design guidelines will be established to ensure attractive
landscaping, streetscaping, architectural standards, and unified access
Shortly thereafter Estero’s community leaders obtained Lee County Board of
CountyCommissioners' approval of
three major changes in the County’s Land Development Code establishing
higher standards of development regulations for Estero.
These regulations create “overlay districts” along US 41 and Corkscrew
governing the appearance and location of buildings and, most importantly,
their compatibility and connectivity with one another. Other regulations
govern the location and treatment of “big box” stores and the types, size
and architectural standards of signage and lighting as well as road and
addition to these high design standards, new mandatory opportunities were
created for community input on all new Estero projects prior to the
developer’s application to the County for zoning or development order.
result, the Estero community has had a valuable extended period of time to
constructively work with developers to meet or exceed the community’s needs
and, if unsuccessful, to appeal for changes to Lee
staff or the CountyBoard of Commissioners.
Infrastructure Needs of Rapid Growth
the past ten years Estero’s infrastructure has kept pace with its
exceptional residential and commercial growth. LeeCounty
and the State of Florida
have invested approximately $500 million in new or widened roads in South
LeeCounty since 2000.
Estero’s north-south corridors have been greatly expanded: the widening of
US 41 to six lanes, the new four-lane Livingston/Imperial/Three Oaks
corridor and the four-lane Via Coconut Point from Corkscrew Road to BonitaSprings.
were four north-south lanes through Estero ten years ago are now 14 lanes.
Other major projects currently underway in Estero will improve traffic flow
even more.They include the
widening of Three Oaks Parkway
from Corkscrew Road to Alico Road; the Estero Parkway Extension
and I-75 Overpass from Three
Oaks Boulevard to Ben Hill Griffin Road and the six-laning
Estero’s recreational amenities have also been greatly expanded. The 65 acre
opened to the public in 2006.It
features a 42,000 square foot recreation center and an attached amphitheater
stage for concerts and other public events with lawn seating for over 5,000.
In addition 100 acres was acquired by the State and County to permit the
Koreshan State Historic Site to be doubled in size.
Estero community is also working cooperatively with the City of Bonita
Springs to obtain a 24/7 Freestanding Emergency center for the area,
probably on land now owned by Lee Memorial Health Systems in the South
Village of Coconut Point.
Convenience of Major
other southwest Florida
community can boast so many convenient major facilities as
newly expanded SouthwestFlorida
InternationalAirport is only a 15
minute drive from Corkscrew
with 10,000 students and growing fast, is located on Estero’s northeast
region’s largest sports and attraction arena, 7,000 seat Germaine Arena,
home of the minor league Florida Everblades hockey team, is a short walking
distance from Estero's 140-store Miromar Outlets Mall and InternationalDesignCenter
on Corkscrew Road.
130-store CoconutPointTownCenter and Hyatt Regency
Resort and Spa are both located on
Coconut Road in Estero.
addition, LeeCounty is under contract
to provide the Boston Red Sox with a new spring training complex in south Lee
no later than December 2012.The
Red Sox currently train in Ft.Myers and the Minnesota
Twins have their spring training facilities at Hammond Stadium in south Lee
County, only ten miles from Estero.
On December 9thLeeCounty
signed a 30 year lease with the Boston Red Sox for a
facility in south LeeCounty.
On December 23rd 14 landowners or their
representatives filed site proposals with the County, four of them in
Estero. The proposed Estero sites are:
Farms…the owners of this site has been trying hard for many years to
gain development approval for his 4,000, mostly wetland, acres east of I-75
adjacent to The Brooks. Their initiatives include the Coconut I-75
Interchange earmark; Water District approval of a four mile ditch along the
western and southern boundaries of the property and Water District pressure
to install five large culverts under I-75 without proof that they were
needed. Edison Farms is offering free land to the County for the Red Sox
site and also is offering land on the site to FGCU, reportedly for a
football field, and is working with the National Swimming Center Corporation
for a Swim USA facility for training of Olympic and other swimmers on the
site. This landowner is offering the County 412 acres free of charge but the
land is only accessible if the County builds a road from Corkscrew Road
south to the property about 2 miles to the south at an estimated cost of
about $30 million. The County owns some of the right-of-way for this road
inasmuch as it is the planned route for the controversial and expensive CR
951, a road that has not been found fiscally feasible and has been included
in the County’s long-range 2030 plan with tolling as the likely funding
Midtowne Estero and Midtowne Estero Village…these
two properties across Three
Oaks Parkway from each other just south of Corkscrew Road
total 88 acres, about the size required by the Red Sox. The property on the
east side is zoned for housing and the parcel on the southwest corner of
Three Oaks and Corkscrew is zoned for 90,000 square feet of commercial and
over 230 housing units. The developers were recently turned down by the County
for a “big box” on the western property. The eastern site is bordered by
Shadow Wood at the Brooks on the south and the western site is bordered by
residential on the south as well. Questions may arise about the
compatibility of this use, especially for night games or concerts, if the
neighboring homes are impacted by noise and light. The community may also be
concerned about the traffic impact of this use of this site as it has been
of other commercial uses on it. The proposal calls for the County to
purchase the land.
North Point…this property consists of 102
acres located just north of Coconut Point on the northeast corner of Williams Road and US
41. The property is now owned by the Lutgert Company. It was zoned for
670,000 square feet of commercial, 150 residential units and a 150 room
hotel prior to Lutgert acquiring the property several years ago. This area
will be intensively developed, both commercially and residentially. The
property will ultimately be surrounded by residential development within a
short distance. Thus it may also have some noise and lighting compatibility
University Highlands Ltd. Partnership…this
210 acre site, owned by Nassif Development of Naples, is located immediately
north of Germaine Arena between I-75 and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. It will
soon be bordered on the north by the Estero Parkway Flyover. The Grandezza
community is located immediately across Ben Hill Griffin from this site.
Most of the applicants have not provided the public
with any information about their proposal. The County’s contract requires
that the proposals be made pubic no later than January 12, 2009. The County screening committee will meet
on January 22nd to select the sites to be forwarded to the BOCC
for their approval. The BOCC must make the final site selection by June 1, 2009.
On November 1stLee
and the Boston Red Sox signed a 29 page agreement committing the County to
provide the Red Sox a new spring training ballpark and training facility
(Project Site) in south LeeCounty by a “target date”
of December 1,
“but in no event later than
December 1, 2012 (Outside Date). ”The agreement specifies a 30
year lease commitment, an 80 acre site for the Red Sox and contains a
detailed description of the 9,999 seat facility plus capacity for another
Early in November the
BOCC voted to allocate one cent (out of 5 cents) of the proceeds of the
Tourist Development Tax Revenues to help finance the Project
The Project Site must be
south of Daniels Parkway;
east of US 41; north of Bonita
Beach Road and west of the proposed alignment of
CR 951. These boundaries include several possibilities in Estero but only
two likely prospects. They are the 220 acre site just north of Germaine
Arena and the western sections of the Edison Farms site located just east of
I-75 adjacent to The Brooks.
Owners of large
properties located within the “Project Boundaries” have until December 23rd
to submit proposals to LeeCounty. At its meeting on
November 21st the ECCL decided to wait until after all the
proposals have been filed and reviewed by the ECCL
before deciding if they what to make
a recommendation to the BOCC.
The Red Sox contract
contains a very aggressive schedule. It calls for the two parties to approve
a 30 year lease and for the County to prepare a preliminary cost estimate
for the project by the end of the year. A detailed financing plan is
required by January 15, 2009; the
project architect, engineer and construction firm must be hired by February 1, 2009; the County
must make “all reasonable efforts” to select and obtain control of a site by June 1, 2009.
The site selection
criteria in the contact states that “the cost of land acquisition will not
be the sole determining factor…but will serve as one of many factors
considered…” Other factors to be considered include: existing and/or needed
infrastructure improvements; environmental impacts; timing and availability;
proximity to full service hotels; proximity to other complementary and
accessory uses such as number and size of retail, commercial, restaurant,
sports and entertainment venues; prospects for complimentary development on
nearby property; acquisition cost and the economic impact generated by the
The location of the Red
Sox site and the development that it will stimulate will have a great impact
on south LeeCounty and the Estero community. It is a
testament to the quality of the south LeeCounty
communities that the Red Sox management insisted on locating in our area.
Consequently the ECCL and the Estero Community Planning Panel will be
following this process very closely in the months to come.
On January 13th from to the Estero Fire District will hold a Town Hall
Meeting at the District’s Administrative Complex on Three Oaks Parkway to discuss the Fire
District Consolidation Study of the merger prospects of the BonitaSprings,
Estero and San Carlos Park Fire Districts. The meeting will open with a
presentation by Fire Chief Scott Vanderbrook outlining the procedures that
the Districts’ consultant will follow and the opportunities for public input
throughout the course of the study. This presentation will be followed by a
question and answer period for the Estero community residents in attendance.
All are invited to attend this important Town Hall Meeting.
On June 17th the three Fire District Boards, Bonita Springs,
Estero and San Carlos Park, voted to approve a contract with System Planning
Corporation, Tridata Division to evaluate the merger of the three districts.
During July each of the three Fire District Boards voted to approve funding
their share of the cost of this consulting contract. Each district will pay
During August each of the Board’s approved the contract with System Planning
Corporation, Tridata Division. The consultant will begin work on the study
early in 2009 so that widespread public input can be obtained prior to their
analysis of the issues involved in such a merger. The study is expected to
be completed in about six months, or about mid-2009.
On December 19th
the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved a list of
transportation projects to be forwarded by the Florida Department of
Transportation (FDOT) to the Federal government for possible inclusion in
the infrastructure component of the Economic Recovery program proposed by
the Obama transition committee. The ECCL urged the MPO to add the
of US 41 between Corkscrew Road and San CarlosPark to this list. FDOT opposed this
recommendation because all of the right-of-way for the road is not in hand
due to their inability to acquire the necessary detention pond in the
vicinity of US 41 and Broadway. They indicated that this project may be
added later in 2009 when a pond site has been acquired. County Commissioner
Frank Mann spoke in favor of the project being added as soon as possible.
Members of the Needs
Assessment Sub-committee of the
South Lee County Hospital Committee met on
December 4 and December 11 at
Hall. On December 19th the committee held
a meeting at "Estero Urgent Care” (Corkscrew & Three Oaks Parkway).
The meeting was attended by Ed Houck, Executive Director of the District 8
Health Planning Council. In addition Houck was involved in the early
stages of planning the BonitaCommunity
HealthCenter. Also in
attendance was Larry A. Hobbs, M.D. of the EsteroUrgentCareCenter.
The mission of the Hospital Committee was discussed in detail. Afterward a
summary of the meeting was prepared and has been given to Dr. Hobbs for
comment before it is published.
The Committee Co-chairs and the Needs Assessment Sub-committee will be
meeting with members of the "Executive Staff" of Lee Memorial Health
System in late January to discuss the Committee’s concerns and to gain
knowledge of what Lee Memorial‘s present plans are as it relates to the
healthcare needs of South Lee County. In February the same group plans
to have a similar meeting with
and their "Executive Staff".
will host an all-day Celebration of the Arts on
Saturday March 28, 2009. The celebration, sponsored by the Estero
Council of Community Leaders (ECCL), will include continuous live
entertainment on and off stage, art exhibits, food booths, information
booths, art for sale, demonstrations and other displays of interest starting
at 11 a.m. and going throughout the day until the Gulf Coast Symphony
Orchestra brings the day’s event to a close on stage starting at 4:00 PM
when it will present a full program of music. The "Breckenridge Singers" and
Mud Bone from New Orleans will also be presenting on stage.
From the "Brooks" will be the "Brooks Brothers" to entertain at the smaller
pavilion between acts. "We are in the stages of bringing commercial
restaurant vendors to this event. A small "Taste of Estero"!
A core group of Estero leaders of non-profit and
civic organizations are in the process of setting the agenda of the day's
events. Appointed by the ECCL, Bev MacNellis will be the chairperson of this
celebration. "Pulling in several community organizations to take the lead in
organizing this event is in progress at this time. The committee will be
contacting cultural organizations, artists in all media and performers in
music, song, dance and theater to consider being a part of this celebration
of the arts," said Ms.
"We are also
looking for an outstanding creative young writer. We hope to receive entries
from children in the 6th to 12th grade to participate in "Florida
Stories" sponsored by the Gulfshore Playhouse".
include on-stage or walk-about performances by local talent, an exhibit
table to showcase an organization's offerings, or marketing goods and
services to the arts community to raise money for their not-for-profit
organization. The park's outside amphitheater-style stage provides attendees
with a true lawn setting experience.
On December 12th
the members of the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) voted
unanimously to authorize the leaders of ECCL to present the following
testimony at the January 22nd Public Hearing of the Southwest
Florida Legislative Delegation in Fort Myers. Such a pubic hearing is
conducted each year in order to provide an opportunity for all local
organizations and citizens to present their needs and concerns to the
region’s Representatives and Senators.
The ECCL presentation is
“Oppose Local Government Pre-emption
“Mining Permitting and Regulation: We urge you
to discourage and oppose efforts by the mining industry to reduce the
authority of local governments to permit and regulate mining within their
jurisdictions.For the last 25
years the Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) area within
LeeCounty has provided all seven counties
to Collier with 80% of all the aggregate they have consumed during that
period.The Lee County Board of County
has directed staff to develop a plan that would permit the DR/GR area to
continue this supply capacity for the next 30 years.In addition, new aggregate mines have recently been approved in
CollierCounty and in Palm BeachCounty just south of
Lake Okeechobee and the capacity of the Ports of Tampa and
Manatee are in the process of greatly expanding their ability to handle
imports of aggregate from foreign sources.
Local Fertilizer Ordinances: We urge you to
reject any legislation that would preempt the authority of local governments
to adopt strong fertilizer ordinances in order to protect the quality of the
water supply within their boundaries.Any statewide standards adopted by the Florida legislature
should permit local ordinances that are more restrictive than the State
standard.To date, Lee and CharlotteCounties and the cities of Naples, Sanibel and Bonita
have adopted reasonable fertilizer ordinances and have allocated significant
resources to implement those laws.In addition the City of Ft. Myers Beach is in the process of
approving a fertilizer ordinance.
In principle the larger cities and counties of
have the ability to permit and regulate the most sensitive projects and
industries within their boundaries with full knowledge of the unique
conditions that these issues pose.It is the smaller, rural counties that may require state involvement
in these matters.
current economic slowdown offers you a unique opportunity to support and
expand Florida’s existing land
conservation programs (like Florida Forever) and to institute others that
will ensure that Florida’s
quality of life is preserved for decades to come.The recent approval of Amendment 4 enhances your opportunity to
provide incentives for land to be placed in permanent or temporary
conservation easements.68% of
the electorate voted for Amendment 4 and 66 of 67 counties approved.
Voters in Southwest Florida and across Florida want incentives
that reward private landowners who protect and conserve their lands.
These incentives result in long-term public good without spending taxpayer
dollars to purchase and maintain conservation lands. Community paybacks
include improved water quality, aquifer recharge, natural open space, and
wildlife habitat. We urge you to initiate and support such legislation and
As you know Florida has lost half of its wetlands over
the last few decades and projections through 2060 indicate that unless Florida’s adopts better
growth management provisions the state will continue to lose a large share
of its existing farmland an open space.
LeeCounty has been a leader
in land conservation over the last decade or more with its Conservation 2020
Program. We urge you to support valuable state land conservation efforts
particularly during this period of lower land prices.
Support Comprehensive Planning and Growth Management
During periods of economic distress like the present,
persistent efforts to water down Florida’s comprehensive planning and growth
management system explode in the name of economic development.These efforts must be resisted if the reasons why so many residents
have relocated to Florida
are to be maintained when the economy recovers.We believe that the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
must continue to play an important role in this process and urge you to
support them in their efforts to improve this process.
The undersigned organizations oppose any Legislative
changes that would weaken the authority of the DCA to act as the oversight
agency for local growth management planning.Good growth management policy and planning requires a system of
checks and balances through a tiered approach of local, regional and state
oversight.DCA fulfills the
important role of ensuring that amendments to comprehensive plans are
internally consistent and appropriate through their review and with their
authority to determine compliance.We will support Legislation that reinforces such oversight authority
for safeguarding our planning process.
Funding for the CaloosahatcheeRiver
Watershed Protection Plan
Finally, we want to underscore the prime importance of
advocating funding for the Northern Everglades
projects, which include the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan
projects. These are vital to turning the tide on estuary pollution and
Traffic Signals for Public Safety and School Facilities
During the last three years four new fire stations have
been constructed in Estero, two on US 41 and two on County roads. At present
none of them have emergency traffic signals. As a result the response time
of fire equipment responding to calls from all of these stations is delayed
trying to enter the major roadways adjacent to the stations. Since 80% of
the fire district’s calls are medical emergencies, this situation poses a
major threat to the health and life of many of our citizens. No doubt all of
Florida’s growth areas experience similar problems.
At present emergency traffic signals at Police and Fire
stations and Schools must be financed by those institutions, mostly from
property tax revenues. We urge the Southwest Florida Legislative Delegation
to take the lead in sponsoring legislation requiring that these signals be
installed and financed as part of the contract for construction or widening
of the roadway on which these facilities are located. Thus FDOT, County and
Municipal governments throughout Florida would need to include such
improvements in their road improvement plans. Only in this way can the
citizens of Florida
be assured that their public facilities have the necessary public safety
traffic signals as soon as they are needed.
During November one
housing unit, a single family home, with a value of $431,680 was
in Estero. The first eleven months of 2008 continue the downward trend in
new housing construction in Estero that began nearly three years ago, in the
spring of 2006.
Until now housing unites
permitted during 2007 were by far the lowest in the 9 years that the
County’s system has tracked Estero’s permits. It would appear that 2008 will
reach only about one-third of that prior minimum performance. The County
permitting information used in this report may be found at
The following table
shows how the first eleven months of 2008 compare with the prior eight
Not only are this year’s
total housing units far below all prior years, they equal only 10% of the
comparable number in 2002, the season immediately following the tragedy of 9/11/2001 and is only 34% of last year’s total
for the period.
Building permits of all types issued during the first eleven months of 2008
continued at a very slow pace. The value of
buildings permitted in Estero during the eleven months totaled $38.8
Year to Date
As the right hand column of the above table indicates Estero’s commercial
development started to expand rapidly in 2004, peaking in 2006 with a total
of $184.7 million (All figures are exclusive of the underlying land). The
2000 calendar year was exceptional because it was the year that the Hyatt
Coconut Point Hotel and Resort was permitted.
2007 was Estero’s second highest commercial development year, far ahead of
the third place year, 2005. Thus far 2008 is Estero’s sixth ranked
commercial development year out of nine years. While Estero’s commercial
development has slowed considerably since last year, many commercially zoned
properties along US 41 and
have been cleared, the sites prepared and the designs approved by the Estero
Design Review Committee. Estero’s commercial growth is poised for expansion
once the current slowdown is over.
During the first eleven months the major projects that contributed to the
year to date totals are:
$10.19 million for the Hyatt Garden Hotel at Coconut Point
$8.0 million for Extra Space Storage in Coconut Point