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Environmentalists oppose new apartment complex in South Fort Myers

Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 19:00:36-04

SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — A luxury apartment complex coming to a South Fort Myers neighborhood.

It could boost the local economy, but replace farmland off of South Pointe Boulevard near College Parkway.

Lee County commissioners approved the developer’s proposal to take over the land a few weeks ago, but now environmental activists are speaking out.

Zimmer Development Company plans to build a 400-unit multi-family apartment complex called “Inspiration at South Pointe.” But, environmental activists like Vik Chhabra are not inspired by the out-of-state developer.

“You know this developer is from Delaware. He’s just going to develop it and leave and go on to the next one. He doesn’t care about us,” he said.

Chhabra spoke to Fox 4 from his home garden. He says he’s not thrilled about the developer’s plans to bring more retail business to the area.

“It’s a supply and demand issue. Why are we adding more supply when it comes to retail, when the existing retail is hurting,” he said.

Just like with most new developments across the country, when the big retailers move in, the traffic follows them.

Chhabra says the land that’s already here needs to be protected.

“I want to hear the conversation change to proximity to a park or proximity to a community-supported agricultural area where you can go and pick up your fresh vegetable from somebody locally growing it,” he said.

But realtor Kari Wilbanks says the new apartments will benefit the local economy.

“Those property taxes are going to go up exponentially,” she said. “That’s just because we’re going from maybe a few hundred dollars a year, if that to tens of thousands of dollars based on what’s built.”

She says even if a major retail store like a Walmart or Publix builds a store front on the land, it could serve as an anchor store attracting shoppers to family-owned businesses nearby.

“I’ve seen companies absolutely thrive within them. So, depending on your niche, it could be a fantastic plaza to open shop in,” she said.

The county still needs to vote on whether retail stores will be allowed in that area. Their next zoning meeting is scheduled for Wednesday November 4th.