VA clinic construction brings jobs to Cape Coral
Bob Koenig, senior vice president and area manager for Kraft Construction, offered contractors a glimpse at the new Lee County VA Outpatient Clinic during a Cape Coral Construction Industry Association meeting Thursday night.
Not only did the discussion revolve around construction of the state-of-the-art 220,000 gross square foot outpatient clinic, but other major projects in Lee County such as the new Red Sox Stadium in Fort Myers and a proposed Olympic swim complex in Cape Coral – all major projects expected to improve Southwest Florida’s economy.
The construction industry in Southwest Florida was hit hardest two years ago when the economy crashed, and a large portion of January’s 14.1 percent local unemployment rate came from job losses in construction.
Koenig reported to CCCIA members that 80 percent of the supplies and sub-contractors for the veteran’s clinic are from Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. He added that once it is finished, other development is likely to follow on the clinic’s site off of Diplomat Parkway.
“One of the thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that around this type of clinic is a lot of extra development, a hotel, assisted living or restaurants,” said Koenig.
Construction of the new clinic, designed to replace the outdated facility in Fort Myers and provide medical care for 200,000 local veterans and counting, is already under way. Those driving past the site can already see columns being raised, he said.
“It’s amazing to me how many people ask me: Have you started that yet?” said Koenig.
The project will use some 2,058 tons of steel, 33,000 square feet of curtain wall glass and requires 50,000 gallons of fuel for the generator.
So far it’s been moving well, he said, and consensus is that it will be completed within 600 days of the start date, which puts the clinic opening near the end of 2011.
Koenig also said that the Bay Pines VA Health Care System, the local clinic’s administrator in St. Petersburg, wants to get a head start on some of the future expansions planned for the Cape Coral facility, and as a result there may be other contracting opportunities over the next year.
“There should be some additional opportunities there if what we are being told is correct,” he said.
Other discussion was on the Red Sox Stadium off of Daniel’s Parkway in Fort Myers, which besides a baseball field may include hotels, restaurants, a Red Sox Hall of Fame Museum, and other businesses.
Bidding on the job should be in June, said Koenig, and rewards should be announced the following month or two. The county’s intent is to include a number of smaller contractors rather than one big company.
“Our intent is not to let one giant contract the various pieces,” he said. “We are going to split this job up and hopefully involve smaller contractors.”
Although the Cape Coral City Council has yet to make a final decision on constructing an Olympic swim complex, Council Member Kevin McGrail attended the CCCIA meeting and said he wants to push a vote on the complex later this month.
He also held an unofficial survey of the association members by asking anyone who didn’t support the complex to raise their hands – and not one of the approximately 100 people signified they were against it.