City gets update on South Cape development concept
For the Bimini Basin area to become what the city hopes it will, it will have to positively influence the drivers of investment who will be interested in growing the area and make it a destination.
That is what Kevin Crowder, economic development director for Redevelopment Management Services said during the joint meeting earlier this week between the Community Redevelopment Agency and the South Cape Community Redevelopment Advisory Board.
Crowder gave a presentation of the market assessment and implementation plan for the proposed development evaluating the strengths and needs of the city to make the project successful.
“It’s important to look at as a city and CRA what you can do to positively influence these drivers in the right direction and things that will make a difference,” Crowder said.
Crowder said it takes three things, market feasibility, identity and regulatory efficiency, to converge and bring about investment, and that they need to look at what connects residents to their community.
“It’s not job opportunities, or even schools, it’s aesthetics, how a place looks and feels, the activities, the social opportunities to engage and interact with each other,” Crowder said. “It was how welcoming that community is and that’s the bottom line when working in an area.”
Crowder said the things the city has to do is preserve public access to those activities, improve water quality and walkability and aesthetics with mixed-use development. They also need to invest in connections, parking and the identity of Bimini Basin itself.
One of the drivers would be to improve Four Freedoms Park and expand bike trails into Bimini Basin, as well as the current streetscape project at Southeast 47th Terrace and gateway enhancements. Connectivity comes from aesthetics, Crowder said.
Special events, which Crowder called a strength in Cape Coral, get people downtown. He said the city has a great infrastructure to make them work and bring business to the area. It does have to be balanced with quality of life and how the city manages noise, especially once people come into the area.
Crowder added that improving the regulatory process is always a good thing. It will take private sector money to make the project work, and the more they can do to be at the top of the class, the better. Currently, the city’s land-use regulations are considered to be “cumbersome and inflexible,” according to their written implementation plan.
As far as ideas on how to implement Bimini Basin, Crowder suggested townhouses on the West side of Cape Coral Parkway, which would serve as a gateway into downtown. A restaurant and/or a hotel north of Four Freedoms was also suggested, which will come later on in the process.
CRA commissioner and Cape Councilmember Jim Burch said he liked the report, as it took lots of work and listening to stakeholders. But that the biggest step will be that first one.
“It’s a dramatic step forward. People are very interested and very scared, and that’s understandable,” Burch said. “This process will be the entire epitome of success for Cape Coral. We need destination places.”
Crowder said it will be two to five years before any plan would start to be implemented.
RMA is a consulting firm hired by the city tasked with creating a plan to spur redevelopment in this waterfront location.