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Take that, hurricanes

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  • | 11:00 a.m. October 6, 2017
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When it comes to hurricanes, the MacFarlane family, prolific Fort Myers developers, aren't messing around with their latest project, a two-tower, 22-story waterfront condo community.

The 220-unit project, Prima Luce, is designed in the planning stages to be able to sustain 160 mph winds. That exceeds the Miami-Dade hurricane code — the strictest code in the state, say Prima Luce LLC officials. The project, for which MacFarlane Grand Properties is the brokerage firm, is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter. “We want this to go above and beyond hurricane standards,” MacFarlane Grand Properties and Prima Luce COO Rebekah MacFarlane Barney tells Coffee Talk.

The developers had been testing the project's major storm fortification systems prior to Hurricane Irma. But after the havoc the storm caused, the developers released specific news of the project's ability to withstand powerful storms. The 160 mph figure for the community, in the Downtown Fort Myers Historic River District, stems from a certified engineering firm's wind tunnel simulation experiment, according to a statement.

The experiment includes creating a physical, geometrical model of the site and buildings to scale, in addition to nearby properties within a one-mile distance of the development, the release adds. Through a series of tests that produce the natural wind environment in an enclosed space, engineers can determine the wind forces applied to every surface of the building and design each surface accordingly. Also, the builders will use impact-resistant windows “to resist missile objects of any size,” the release states, “as well as resist maximum glass deflection potentially caused by the wind's velocity.”

One more hurricane nugget: A power generator for both towers will be built to supply electrical service during a code-established time frame.

Apart from storms, the project faces other potential headwinds, in a potentially shifting real estate market. MacFarlane Barney acknowledges there is chatter the market in some spots has reached, or is near, a saturation point. But Prima Luce, with a price range from the mid $200s to more than $1 million, has a location and amenities competitors don't have, says MacFarlane Barney.

“I think it's still a good time to be in Fort Myers,” MacFarlane Barney tells Coffee Talk. “Nothing has really been built on the water in a few years. I don't believe we have peaked, and I think the demand is there.”


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