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Developer of new Bonita Springs luxury project says housing shortage will last years

Posted at 3:48 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 05:42:31-04

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — When Mark Wilson and his team at London Bay broke ground on a new golf course in Bonita Springs Tuesday morning, it felt like the end of a long road. With an even longer road still ahead.

"We're building a new coastal village, right here on Estero Bay," Wilson says.

The project is called Saltleaf. To start with, Wilson will build two residential towers, not far from US 41 and Coconut Point Resort Dr. There will also be a marina. And World Golf Hall of Famer, Raymond Floyd was brought on to re-design his Raptor Bay golf course.

"It's a long term process to even put a shovel in the ground," Wilson says.

He started buying land for the project in 2016. His company then had about 70 town hall meetings to meet with people who live in the area, who had concerns about traffic and access to the marina. And the first people won't move into the towers until 2025.

That timeline is a good example of how long it takes to build major housing developments. With Southwest Florida's population booming right now, there's suddenly a need for a lot more housing, especially affordable housing.

But from a shortage of skilled construction workers, to material shortages, to zoning changes, there are several things standing in the way of doing it quickly.

"Our schedules are getting elongated, no question about that," Wilson says
"We're getting surprises from time to to time on materials and why they're not being delivered, and what is in the supply chain blocking it."

It's also more expensive to build right now. So developers who want to build affordable housing often have to get tax breaks or other government help, which delays the process even more.

Wilson believes it will be 10 years before the housing supply catches up with demand. That's about the time he expects to finish his 500 acre community.