FORT MYERS, Fla. — Planned Downtown high-rises may change Fort Myers' Skyline in the next few years.
Fox 4 is getting an update on how downtown housing development in the works before Hurricane Ian and Covid is progressing.
"You can't stop progress dear," said John Campbell a resident of Fort Myers.
For Residents like Campbell who's lived in Fort Myers since he was six years old, he says he understands things need to develop but is not necessarily a fan.
"I don't like it, but I got to go with the flow," Campbell said.
Examples include the long-planned Prima Luce and Irving scheduled to open in 2025.
"The Prima Luce, that's been a project that's been in the works for a very long time for many, many years," said Steve Belden, Fort Myer's Director of Community Development. "The demand is there again, same with the Irving we are seeing the market come back for those high-rises."
When walking along First Street, you will see an empty lot that's fenced off, but in 2025 the 22-story Prima Luce building is expected to be finished.
Prima Luce will have 220 units, with two towers, and half of the units are already booked according to Prima Luce's Executive Marketing director, DiDi Bussy.
But that's not the only high-rise coming to Downtown Fort Myers. The Irving will sit on the corner near the intersection of Bay and Lee Street, in the heart of the River District.
"The Irving team is currently working with the City of Fort Myers and local utility providers to establish the equipment easements necessary to remove the existing overhead power lines from the project site, while the final vertical construction permit drawings are under review," stated Jeff Barney, Vice President of the Alzada Company. "Site work and other utility permits have already been approved and once issued, we hope to officially break ground this fall."
The 12-story building will have 98 units and Barney said there is already a waitlist.
Belden said the current demand for the high-rises is the best its been since the 2008 Real Estate Market Crash.
"The housing market came back, but the high-rise market was the last and that's what we are seeing now," Belden said.
Belden added that the demand is coming from a combination of things such as COVID, Hurricane Ian, and the influx of people moving to the area wanting a certain convenience.
Similar to Mike Kinnery and his wife Tiffany from Michigan.
"We love it. We are looking to buy a condo," Mike Kinnery said."We like the restaurants, we like the live bands and the people are friendly."
"It's certainly an attraction for people to live in that urban setting, where all of your amenities are right there in walking distance," Belden said.
The City of Fort Myers provided a graphic showing the population growth in Fort Myers. The graphic shows Fort Myers' Population in 2000 compared to last year in 2022 when the City of Palms reached nearly 100,000 residents.
And with growth, there is a mixed reaction.
"Well, I'm concerned with the buildings they are building now, because if they build it taller than that one. I rather see the face of the building because it's kind of ugly from up there there is no green," said Jerry Turin, a Fort Myers Resident.
The Irving was first announced in November of 2021. The Vice President of Alzada said the Irving has been designed to preserve and enhance the historical integrity and natural beauty of the existing downtown River District Community.
"While The Irving is technically a high-rise building, it’s also technically a mid-rise building. With the Edison Grand and Royal Palm Towers just northeast of The Irving, and the Luminary just down Bay Street to the west, The Irving will add some height to Downtown, but no higher than some of its nearby neighbors," Barney stated.
As for the Prima Luce, it was announced in 2018 and broke ground mid-2022. The project has completed its first phase.
"We’re situated further along First Street and not in the hustle and bustle of the historic downtown area where you’ll find the downtown charm well preserved," stated Bussy. "There is also a huge housing need within this price category to accommodate the massive expansion of Lee County."
Both projects are expected to be completed in 2025.