- February 17, 2017
When he was CEO of WCI Communities, David Fry oversaw some of the region's biggest suburban residential developments with tolled gates and lush golf courses.
Today, Fry's attention has turned to urban developments inside the city. For example, Fry plans to build a seven-story building in downtown Fort Myers where he plans to live in a 3,000-square-foot condo that will take the entire top floor with a view of the Caloosahatchee River. “We're going to downsize,” says the 55-year-old executive-turned-entrepreneur.
Fry is now living in a 6,000- square-foot contemporary home on the Caloosahatchee River. Initially built as a speculative home he planned to sell, Fry decided he liked the home so much he moved there from Fort Myers Beach.
When he left WCI in late 2012, Fry says he wanted to indulge in his passion for modern architecture. “I thought I was going to dabble a little bit,” he chuckles.
Fry is more than just dabbling now. For starters, he's scouting infill areas of Fort Myers for opportunities to build and sell luxury modern-architecture homes. “Southwest Florida has improved much quicker than I anticipated,” he says.
Fry's custom-homebuilding company is called Dwell. “I bought several properties on the McGregor Boulevard corridor,” he says. “That's my hobby right now.”
In addition, Fry has partnered with Missouri developer and builder Steve Groeper, and together they're building two residential communities and some commercial properties in St. Louis. Part of the reason that market is attractive is because it's a few years behind Fort Myers in the recovery, he says.
Besides Dwell, Fry has formed a commercial construction company called Vantage Construction Services. Trent Swartz, the president of Vantage, was formerly an executive with North Florida firm Charles Perry Construction, which has built many institutional buildings for clients such as universities and government.
Fry says Vantage will team with Charles Perry to bid on projects in Southwest Florida in areas such as health care and education. “We're trying to bid on larger-scale stuff,” Fry says.
Since Vantage was formed in November, the builder already has 20 projects ranging from health centers to credit unions and shopping centers. “It has really taken off,” Fry says.
In addition to the seven-story mixed-use building he's planning in downtown Fort Myers, Fry says he's working on two other urban condo projects in the area. He declines to discuss them in detail because the deals haven't closed, but he says one tower could have as many as 300 condos priced between $300,000 and $600,000 and the other could have 50 with waterfront boat docks costing $500,000 to $700,000.
“I love the idea of an urban setting,” Fry says. He speaks from personal experience: He has four daughters, and when the fourth one leaves home he plans to travel more. “The lock-and-leave lifestyle is attractive,” Fry says.
Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss