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Community Redevelopment Plan approved by council

By Staff | Sep 21, 2009

The Cape Coral City Council approved a number of motions Monday night that will help to improve the city’s southern district overseen by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
The council approved the new Community Redevelopment Plan. It allows the agency to begin the process of taking control over the historic Golf Club of Cape Coral after the agency’s boundaries were expanded in June.
“It is the heart of the city. That golf course, in my opinion, is something that can generate that growth we need,” said Mayor Jim Burch.
The Golf Club, owned by Florida Golf Ventures, has been closed for three years. The Redevelopment Trust, paid for by tax increment funds from residents living around the golf course, will front the funds for the course and the CRA will enter into a lease-purchase agreement.
“Over a period of years the title will be transferred to the CRA,” said John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA. “I don’t see where it would become a burden to the city.”
Councilmember Bill Deile said he is concerned about whether city funds would subsidize the golf course.
The city works off of a tax base of approximately $540 million and any revenue from incremental changes to that tax roll is given to the CRA, explained Mark Mason, financial services director.
Jacobsen said 10 separate golf course operating companies have been contacted and that the agency would sub-lease maintenance of the course to the company chosen. The costs could range from $1.5 million to $5 million to rehabilitate the grounds, he said.
A large group of south Cape Coral residents attended Monday’s City Council meeting and stood in approval of the golf course takeover. Some residents, though, spoke out against the deal, stating that golf courses are failing across the country and that now isn’t the time for the city to become entangled in the takeover.
An ordinance to rename a portion of the space on Candia Street and Lafayette Street as “Little Italy” died Monday night when the City Council came up with a split vote of 4-4. Local businesses in this region would’ve been Italian-themed restaurants, grocers and stores and the motion was supported by the CRA.
Councilmember Pete Brandt is concerned that creating a resolution to change the area’s name would set a bad precedent and instead suggested the business owners come forward with permission to hang signs.
“I am all for the idea that an area gets a label, however I don’t think it is appropriate for us to take an official action by City Council to do so,” said Brandt.
Other members were hesitant about making it an official designation by the council.