One of the hottest business corridors in Southwest Florida doesn’t look like Main Street.
Pine Island Road has been transforming over the past two decades from a quiet pathway to Pine Island into a jumble of big-box stores, strip malls, chain restaurants, car dealerships and convenience stores.
A new Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership opened recently, and it will be followed by a Nissan dealership across the street. In the past year, Burlington, Five Below and Aldi each have set up shop.
The second-largest city in Florida in terms of land mass after Jacksonville, Cape Coral is the largest city in population – 189,000 and growing – between Tampa and Miami.
The boom in new homes feeds the boom in new businesses along this corridor. And it’s offsetting some of the losses in the big-box retail sector.
Since the recession, one center off Pine Island lost an A.C. Moore and a Circuit City. But it picked up a Bed, Bath & Beyond, the Five Below and the Aldi. A Sports Authority and a Staples left the Super Target-anchored Coral Walk shopping center. Burlington moved into the former Sports Authority spot.
Also known as State Road 78, the roadway is managed by the state, not Lee County or the City of Cape Coral. The city zones most of the land along the road, although the county zones a portion between Orchid Road and U.S. 41.
Corridor getting crowded
The 9.4-mile stretch between U.S. 41 and Burnt Store Road has 11 stoplights and is slated to get at least two more over the next year with more growth and development on the way.
About 400 acres of commercially zoned land worth a combined $100 million are for sale on both sides of the road.
Most of the land between Pine Island Road and Cape Coral Parkway – the city’s southern commercial corridor – cannot be developed into large shopping centers because the land has been carved into canals and thousands of residential lots, many with homes. That puts pressure on Pine Island Road, which bisects the city.
Cape Coral’s recovery after a stretch of stagnation from the the Great Recession means more residents and businesses are coming. It means more jobs and economic development. It also means more traffic and car crashes along a road that ranges in speed from 40 to 55 mph.
Annette Barbaccia, commercial manager for Miloff Aubuchon, has been a witness to the commercial building rise. She recently sold 15 of the 30 acres for sale just east of B.J.’s Wholesale at 2201 NE Pine Island Road. She sold half of the plot for $4.6 million last September for what will become Cape Coral’s first Nissan dealership. The other half remains for sale.
“What’s happening with the property there, just to give you kind of a historical perspective: at the height of the market before the recession, in 2006 and 2007, people bought land at very high prices,” Barbaccia said. “Some people waited for it to come back. Some people bought it at a good discount in ’09 to 2011 and 2012. When you look at the Cape as a whole, there’s going to be very few places where people can put large, commercial development. The reality is, most of that is broken up into quarter-acre home sites. Retailers are thinking they need to get in now, or they won’t be able to get in later.”
No canals, no problem
Canals do not factor into the Pine Island Road corridor, which in 1984 began morphing from a quiet, two-lane road into a four-lane, divided road that was near-complete in 2009 and further widened to four lanes from Chiquita Boulevard west to Burnt Store Road in 2014.
The completion coincided with a 73 percent increase in new home permits in Cape Coral over the past five years. That rises to 78 percent when including this year’s numbers, a climb from 448 to 2,051 new home permits, according to the city’s permitting department.
There has been a 75 percent increase in new commercial building permits in Cape Coral over the past five years as well. That rises to 85 percent when including this year’s numbers, a climb from four to 39.
Thirteen of those 39 commercial permits, 33 percent, were along Pine Island Road. Among those: the new car dealership and Aldi, a 7-Eleven, a tire store, a strip mall and a Starbucks.
Moving to the corridor
Mike Morrone, owner of Morrone’s Pizza at 5660 Bayshore Road, on the east side of U.S. 41, signed a lease to move his restaurant, he hopes sometime in 2019, to a parcel to be developed on Pine Island Road, where he already staked his claim with a sign. Morrone said he anticipates doubling his staff from 15 to 30 with the increase in business he expects at the new location.
Troy Montpetit, owner of Downtowner Car Wash, has one location on the west end of Pine Island Road and has placed a sign on the east side for a new location, one he hopes to open sometime in 2019.
These are the types of businesses that will continue to grow along the corridor, said Randy Thibaut, owner of Land Solutions Inc., which is selling 164 acres along the northeastern side of Cape Coral, much of it fronting Pine Island Road. Asking price: $50,000 per acre. That’s $8.2 million for all of it.
“Every time we have a downturn and then an uptick, we have a growth spurt in Cape Coral,” Thibaut said. “Cape Coral is a really, unique area. Cape Coral has always been a value-oriented, workforce oriented area. You wanted to live there because other areas were too expensive. Workforce, middle America. When the market takes off, people looking for homes in Naples, Bonita and south Fort Myers get priced out. So they go to the Cape first. Low crime, restaurants.
“Lehigh also has the huge price attraction, but it’s not as organized as Cape Coral. But it will be. So what we’ve seen over the past three-to-four years, is the bigger real estate spike has been Cape Coral. And in the north Cape, the available lots already have water and sewer.”
Thibaut said he would be marketing his property to potential apartment complexes, housing developments and retail for the portions fronting the road.
Retail bubble burst factors
Because the bubble has burst on retail shopping, with department stores like Sears struggling and big boxes like Toys-R-Us going bankrupt and closing, new retail developers will be wary of the trends, Thibaut said.
“One, Amazon,” he said. “Two, Google. Three, Facebook. Ten million millennials entered the housing market. OK. How do they buy? Online. So the end of Sears. The end of Mattress Firm. When you get new retail, it has to serve the needs of the new, millennial buyer.
“Starbucks. Chipotle. Natural, healthy food restaurants. Entertainment. Brew pubs. If you took 47th Terrace in south Cape Coral and moved it north and expanded it on Pine Island Road, that’s what it will look like. All of that land has been sitting there for decades in speculation. The game has changed for retail. I see less footprint and more product.”
What to expect in the future
Don’t expect a Gulf Coast Town Center along Pine Island Road, Thibaut said.
Do expect some of the components that comprise Gulf Coast Town Center but on a smaller scale. This would ease traffic throughout Lee County, keeping more Cape Coral traffic in Cape Coral as millennials stay closer to home.
There also would be other businesses not as easy on the eyes such as self-storage garages, as Cape Coral city codes forbid recreational vehicles outside, and many homes back into canals, restricting room for storage sheds and space.
Closer to Chiquita Boulevard, land has been for sale for years. Most of these plots are either too small for a large development or too large for a small one, said real estate broker Greg Jeffcott, who has 13 acres for sale at the northeast corner of Chiquita and Pine Island Road for $3.75 million.
“It’s been a sleeping giant for quite a while,” Jeffcott said of the area. “Residential housing. It’s going to drive a lot of the commercial market. They won’t go and build a grocery store in the middle of the Everglades. There are no residents. But when all of a sudden you have a community pop up with 200, 300, 400 homes, every grocery store in the world is looking to put a store in place.”
Along that 9.4-mile stretch, there are seven stores offering a full complement of groceries: Two Publixes, two Walmart Neighborhood Markets, Aldi, B.J.’s and Super Target.
“The one thing that has held that west-end of Pine Island Road down, the roadway that wasn’t completed is now completed,” Jeffcott said. “And the utility project that is being done is going to bring sewer throughout that area. They’re out there digging pipes. Once that’s done, it’s going to go crazy.”
The Cape Coral utilities expansion project began in 2017. Parts of it are scheduled to be completed in 2019 and more by 2021, encompassing five square miles and 8,800 parcels. Even more land will be connected with city water and sewer after the first two phases are completed.
Realtor Phil Deems was selling 2.8 acres for $1.8 million just east of Andalusia Boulevard on the north side of Pine Island Road. It is currently off the market, as the owner wanted to wait a bit before trying to sell again.
“It takes a special buyer who can buy the land,” Deems said. “We don’t have as many of those buyers. You have to put yourself in the mind of the buyer. Let’s say you want to build a 10,000-square-foot store. A convenience store or a fast-food restaurant or a Perkins or something. You only need about 2 to 3 acres. These other parcels are bigger. If you’re a pharmacy or something, you’re not going to buy that kind of acreage. They don’t want to have to go through the process of trying to remarket what’s left over.
“At our corner, we’ve got the lights. We’ve got the side road. We’ve got the visibility. We’ve got the access. We’re definitely in the sweet spot right now.”
- New Year's Eve 2018 events in Naples, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, etc.
- America's 100 Best Places to Retire: Naples makes the list again; Cape Coral joins for the first time
- 8 restaurants in Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral for which JLB is thankful
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers no longer deadliest area for pedestrians
- Prairie Island buys land near Pine Island
- Another 1,460 homes approved for busy Corkscrew Road in east Lee
- Are Lee roads safe? FHP investigating 5 deadly accidents in one day
- Researchers: Algae, growths threaten reefs
- Researchers say algae, tumor-like growths threats to Hawaii reefs
- 10 Tampa Bay area road projects that will make your life easier in 2019
- You can own island where Edison hung out
- Naples-based manufacturer Pelican Wire is wired for growth
- safe roads driving shopping holiday travel tips Florida highway safety
- It’s a $1B project, but Panther Island’s head honcho has never had a written job review
- Coral possibly on the rebound: Small signs of new growth evident along the Kohala Coast
- Your comments: Tampa Bay’s eyesores, snow in Florida, St. Pete development and more
- Wyobooming: Big development fuels regional optimism
- Letter: James Is. growth
- Top world destinations are overrun. Take these suggestions for roads not taken.
- Top world tourist destinations are overrun. Here are suggestions for roads not taken.
Pine Island Road explodes in growth, development in Cape Coral have 1956 words, post on www.news-press.com at November 28, 2018. This is cached page on Law Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.