Cape’s new ‘Veteran’s Investment Zone’ already drawing development interest
The city’s Economic Development Office equates the new “Veterans Investment Zone” to an anchor store at a shopping mall, in that the mall requires the anchor stores to provide economic strength for the other services it provides.
The forthcoming VA Clinic – scheduled to open January 2012 – is that shopping mall, said Audie Lewis from the city EDO, and the “mall” needs the anchors to ensure its stability.
“Think of the clinic as a mall that wants an anchor store,” Lewis told those attending t Tuesday’s VIZ Public Forum. “The more anchors they get, they like.”
The city’s EDO Office hosted the forum at Tarpon Point in an effort to reach out to the community – veteran, business, resident or otherwise – and get the word out about the possibility of commercial growth surrounding the new VA Clinic.
Tuesday’s forum might indicate they are already off to a good start, as a 222,000-square-foot development is looking for their own anchors.
Dubbed “Patriot Place”, the mixed use development is already clearing land, according to Carlos Acosta, from Grub and Ellis.
Acosta said there’s been interest from a major hotelier, but declined the name the company due to a confidentiality agreement.
“We’re already getting some interest, opportunities that will provide a lot of jobs,” Acosta said. “We’ve been only advertising for two or three weeks, and we’re getting a great response.”
The city also is hoping to get a good response from the veterans community not only in Cape Coral, but more importantly outside the city.
Officials are hoping the VA Clinic provides a much-needed boost in commercial tax revenue, of course. But they’re also hoping families snatch up some of the housing inventory as they seek the clinic’s services, or while stationed at the Army Reserve Center, which is being eyed for property across the street from the clinic.
Invest in America Veterans Foundation Founder Ralph Santillo said he’s working with the CEO not only in that regard, but making their museum and foundation a part of the overall VIZ, even though they will be located within the Community Redevelopment Agency district downtown.
“We firmly believe it will bring new vets to our area,” Santillo said. “It will begin a movement to start bringing more veterans here and we hope to add to that with our museum and headquarters.”
The city’s EDO Office is asking that people contribute their ideas for the VIZ, through flyers they handed out at the forum, and through contacting their office directly.
Although the VIZ has no official boundaries, officials hope their “branding” of the area will provide a positive economic future for Cape Coral.
EDO’s Christy Vogt told the audience, “The event does not begin and end tonight … this is the new Cape Coral, the invigorated Cape Coral. We want to carry this as far as we can.”