Residents pack church to see Bimini Basin visions
They kept adding extra seats for all the residents who packed into Faith Presbyterian Church on Coronado Parkway Thursday to see what ideas the 14 graduate students from the University of South Florida had in regards to the long-awaited Bimini Basin project.
More than 400 people came to see the students present three visions for what they see the area becoming in the years to come.
As proposed, the area would become a hub for entertainment, commerce, culture and residences with lots of green space, places for people to walk and access to the water.
“The students worked hard coming up with three different types of visions that can be mixed, matched, thrown out, whatever,” said Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki, who was among those in attendance. “The key is it’s a vision, and we will move on to the community and find out what they like.”
Sawicki asked the crowd if they had seen similar vision plans 20 years ago, or whether they remembered other times there were promises made to do something with Bimini Basin.
Many raised their hands.
“It’s going to happen this time. Let’s not get in our own way. This is about tourism and keeping money in Cape Coral. We want the kids to come,” Sawicki said.
The students made their presentations on the following concepts; Bridging the Gap, Canal Works and Threading the Needle.
The Threading the Needle concept features three distinct districts for entertainment, business and art, all of them pedestrian friendly and featuring a transit hub and a public bus route. A museum/library hybrid could be the main feature of the area.
Canal Works envisions Bimini Basin as a place that differentiates itself from the typical Florida environment.
Its three districts would offer residential opportunities with greenscapes and opportunities to walk, all of which would have their own identities.
The Bridging the Gap concept would expand the access to the water and utilize unused areas such as the old golf course property as equestrian areas. The area would have six districts, all with distinct uses.
They also came up with a “Gap-ap” for people’s phones to let people know where they are and what’s happening in the area.
Taryn Sabia, research faculty at the Florida Center for Design at USF, said the students did a great job expressing their visions and was impressed by the turnout.
“It shows there’s support for the university being a partner in this and that the school cares about what we do and that Cape Coral cares about its future and are engaged,” Savia said.
Generally, the residents liked what they saw and filled out surveys for which concept they thought was the best. Specifically, they liked certain features that could be used to make a hybrid project using the strengths of all three concepts presented.
Jean Nicholson liked everything she saw and said the architectural students did a bang-up job.
“Their visions for the city are very attainable. It all has to be phased in. It requires private development and the public, but we have to have an open mind and look into the future,” Nicholson said.
“We have followed this from the beginning. We love Cape Coral. We love the environment,” said Lotte Blot, whose father was an original investor in town. “We followed what happened here when I lived on the east coast and heard the war stories.”
Rick Pack liked the Bridging The Gap idea because it uses existing lots that are open.
“They don’t have to place eminent domain on anyone. There’s one that changes condos into a dog park,” Pack said. “I finally opens the canal. Once you get the traffic, everything else builds around it and it will draw people.”
City Council approved a contract in September with USF to come up with plans for the area. In January, the graduate students held a “charette,” or public meeting with input, for stakeholders to get their ideas.
Sawicki said she would like to get an idea together as soon as possible and get the Request For Proposals out within the next few months.