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Incentives for plaza proposed

By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

Cape Coral’s Economic Development Office will ask city council to approve nearly $1.5 million in financial incentives for “Patriot Plaza,” a 220,000-square-foot mixed-use facility eyed for the Veterans Investment Zone.
A presentation to council during its Monday workshop will detail the plan, which, if approved the following week, will see a performance- based incentives package tied to the project over 15 years.
If specific uses are not built, then incentives will not be paid, a plan that EDO’s Audie Lewis said will encourage developer Grubb and Ellis to build the plaza sooner rather than later.
“The reason is to get the developer to build now,” Lewis said. “Over the course of 15 years it will be paid back to him.”
Lewis said the office has spent six months working on and tweaking the incentive package.
Should the Patriot Plaza deal prove successful, it would likely, and hopefully, attract other developers looking to take advantage of the incentive package, Lewis said.
He envisions the project raising the property value of parcels within a mile of Patriot Plaza, and the Veterans Investment Zone, an area around the new Veterans Administration clinic under construction on Diploma Parkway which is scheduled to open in November. There are 51 other parcels within that proximity, Lewis added.
“There’s a lot of pluses, but the biggest thing is the ad valorum tax value goes up significantly, about 13 times more than the current value. We’ll have expectations of taxes being 13 times higher.”
The development is expected to have 154,000 square feet of medical office/clinic/rehab/wellness components; 38,000 square feet of retail; And 30,000 square feet of hotel space, which equates to approximately 110 rooms, according to supporting documentation on the city’s website.
The city is expected to collect $1.8 million in impact fees on the project, Lewis said.
Councilmember Marty McClain equated the incentive funding to a TIFF, or a tax increment funding, source.
“The city would pay back the ad valorum taxes of the developer of up to $1.4 million over 15 years, whichever comes first,” McClain said. “This could provide a way for the city to protect itself and really boost development in the VIZ.”
Christy Vogt from the EDO also will give a presentation to council on Monday that will detail ideas for boosting the city’s economic development.
Vogt said they will be looking for a “nod” from council that they are on the right track.
“They had their planning session while we were in the middle of all of this, so we want them to know we match their ideas,” Vogt said. “We want to know if we all agree about how Cape Coral looks to the outside world.”
Vogt said they’re trying to establish “who we are,” “what can we improve” and “who can we attract”.
There also are plans to set up task forces in the community, Vogt said, that will give constant input and provide synergy with the EDO.
Vogt also wants citizens to know the EDO actually has a plan for economic development.
“Some people are under the impression we didn’t have any, but we’ve had them all along, and we’re building on previous plans,” Vogt said.
City Council meets 4:30 pm on Monday at city hall.