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$10 million conference center proposed

By Staff | Jul 31, 2015

Developers of the Westin Resort at Tarpon Point are proposing to build a $10 million, 35,000-square-foot conference center in Cape Coral.

The project is expected to create approximately 33 new jobs, bring in an estimated $100,000 more in bed tax money and an additional $22,735 in property tax revenues while adding a total regional benefit of $33.44 million over the first three years of the project, according to figures released by the city’s Economic Development Office Thursday.

“I believe in the importance of the city having the amenities to attract major conferences here,” said attorney Eric Feichthaler who is representing Freeman & Hasselwander LLC, the owners of the Westin. “It will benefit other hotels in the city as well and likely spur development of other new hotels. Building the conference center will provide the annual demand for waterfront stores and restaurants that goes along with other proposed development like Bimini Basin.”

The economic benefit to the city would be substantial, he added.

“Research shows that for every dollar the city invests in this they get $50 back,” Feichthaler said. “Those are outstanding numbers.”

As an added benefit, the project also would provide the type of meeting facility the Cape lacks, he said.

“Since the golf club closed 10 years ago there really has been no meeting place in Cape Coral since,” Feichthaler said. “Especially in the summer when people want to come to Cape Coral. The demand for the conference center can provide the services for people who already live here.”

The incentive package to help make the project a reality is estimated up to $200,000, primarily in impact fee credits and a release from an agreement with previous owners of the site to repave Pelican Boulevard.

To help mitigate some of the repaving costs, the city has approached Lee County.

The project will be discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Staff has recommended approval.

“Based upon the longer term investment into Cape Coral made by the owners and their continued willingness to partner with the City at Tarpon?Point, and the impacts related to this development, staff recommends approval of their request,” a memo from Economic Development Director Dana Brunett to City Manager John Szerlag states.

The money for the impact fee mitigation can be funded from money available in the city’s Economic Development Incentive Reserve Fund, Brunett said.

Monday’s discussion is expected center on the impact fee concessions and, if approved, the next few months will be spent drawing up an amendment to the Planned Development Project ordinance.

Feichthaler said developers hope to have the center open in the first quarter of 2017.

“The city has indicated they are willing to work with us to streamline the process and get the project done,” Feichthaler added. “This is the first step to establish Cape Coral as an economic power with the major conference traffic the center will generate.”

Also at Monday’s Council meeting, the board will conduct five public hearings that includes two major topics.

Council will decide on amending the planned development project for Sandoval to allow either commercial, multi-family or mixed use features for Phase 4 of the project. The development is located between Pine Island Road and Veterans Parkway west of Surfside Boulevard and east of Cape Royal.

An ordinance authorizing the issuance of not-to-exceed $8 million in obligations for the city to refund all or a portion of its outstanding capital improvement and refunding revenue bonds from 2005 to achieve debt service savings.

The city has refinanced capital improvement bonds in the past at lower percentage rates to achieve overall savings.

Also, a resolution will be considered by council authorizing the purchase of equipment and vehicles capital assets in the general fund associated with police, fire, community development, public works, and parks and recreation departments in the amount of $5.9 million.

Council actually has two scheduled meetings next week. Monday’s meeting will be followed by a special workshop meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Nicholas Annex building conference room.