Cape Coral growth speed exceeding expectations

Published: May 20, 2022 4:27 PM EDT

The fastest-growing city in Southwest Florida is growing faster than we thought. A new study suggests Cape Coral can be built out in the next 11 to 18 years. Which prompts more urgency from city leaders to address the needs and concerns of the city.

More public access to the waterfront, more pedestrian safety, and more hospitals. These are some of the priorities revealed in a study by the Urban Land Institute. To address those needs city leaders need to move fast.

We all know Cape Coral is growing and growing fast but city leaders learned Friday it’s growing even faster than they thought.

Rob Hernandez the Cape Coral City Manager shared some thoughts. “We’ve always been thinking about 2045 2050, but just eleven years it could be possible at this rate that we’re completely built out,” Hernandez says.

Researchers with ULI say commercial and residential development will absorb 500 acres of real estate every year. We see it now, lots of construction especially in the northwest of Cape Coral. But, ULI wants to see more variety of homes that meet a variety of budgets. That’s another way of saying Cape Coral needs more affordable housing.

U.L.I. Panel Chair, Leigh Ferguson, explains, “everyone who lives, everyone who works in this community should have the opportunity to live in this community so that it’s convenient. There’s nothing wrong with commuting in and out of the city. But it needs to be a place for everyone.”

“We’re missing what they call the missing middle right? And that is there are more opportunities for townhomes villas flats work live type of buildings” says Hernandez.

The city council doesn’t have the luxury of time to come up with a plan to accommodate the growing number of people. Mayor John Gunter knows that.

“The wave is coming. To me, it’s better off to be prepared for that wave versus just letting it come and see what happens,” Mayor Gunter says.

The purpose of the study is to create a vision for the city’s strategic plan. ULI gave a lot of recommendations to the council.