|Published:||Sep 11, 2012 6:39 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 11, 2012 6:49 PM EDT|
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Cape Coral and Key West. What do these two cities have in common?
For one, Key West is surrounded by water, and Cape Coral has more canals than Venice, Italy.
But can Lee County's largest city really be turned into a tourist hot spot?
Key West: known for Jimmy Buffett, and an island paradise.
Cape Coral is also a waterfront wonderland.
Key West? Has Fantasy Fest.
Cape Coral? The Coconut Festival
And now the Cape's Community Redevelopment Agency wants to increase the similarities even more. The one thing Key West has that Cape Coral lacks is a 'destination downtown.' But CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen says that's about to change.
"You want to create whats called a 'there' there," explained CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen.
Cape Coral's city council approved a revamp of south Cape codes that will make it easier for businesses to come here: by combining three separate districts into one and loosening restrictions.
The new codes remove a new two-story building requirement and cut the permitting process from years to weeks.
"They're explicit, they're easy to understand," said Jacobsen.
So could Cape Coral become the Conch Republic of Lee County? Only time will tell.
"It's going to take a while with the economy and so forth. People just aren't spending like they used to," said Cape Coral resident Harold Peplow.
"I'm cool with the atmosphere, the 'Bahama Key West' and the t-shirts and leis and all that stuff," said Cape Coral resident Scott Buller.
The CRA also wants to make downtown Cape more pedestrian friendly.
One plan to start a transformation here, the CRA wants to re-do the Big John's parking lot by adding a pavilion.
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