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CRA hoping new codes will spark development

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011

Phrases like “street hierarchy” and “maximum floor area ratio” might very well sound like a foreign tongue, but it’s the language of what many hope will be the revised land use and development regulations that will spark definite change in Cape Coral’s downtown.

Zyscovich and Associates, the firm hired by the Community Redevelopment Agency to design its 2030 vision plan, has been working on that code for several weeks. They expect to be able to present a first draft of those revisions on Oct. 7.

“Nobody on this board has had the experience of building a city,” said CRA Board member Rich Greer. “We count on input from the experts.”

“I’m thrilled about this plan,” Greer added.

The land use regulations are a product of a bygone era, when the real estate boom led many to believe, and plan for, Cape Coral’s downtown being lined with high rise, high-density projects like downtown Fort Myers.

That bubble obviously busted, leaving south Cape with an antiquated and overly complex land use plan that many believe has prevented the downtown from prospering.

The Zyscovich team has designed plans for cities across the country and here in Florida, including New Orleans, Jacksonville and of course, Miami Beach, where their offices are located.

“I appreciate the common sense approach that has worked in other cities and will work here,” said CRA board member Frank Dethlefsen.

Cape Coral’s Planning and Zoning Board had the opportunity to hear the land use plan for the first time on Tuesday and like the CRA, walked away feeling good about the plan’s direction.

“This joint meeting has been nice and very informative,” said P and Z Chairwoman Patti Martin.

Redesigning the land use regulations and associated codes is considered the third phase of the 2030 Vision Plan.

“We want to enhance what we think is cool and special about Cape Coral,” said Trent Baughn from Zyscovich and Associates. “And we’re creating a flexible environment to achieve it.”