- August 23, 2019
A Miami developer has abandoned plans for a pair of ambitious high-rise condominium projects just outside downtown Fort Myers and is offering two sites for sale for a combined $16.2 million.
Brokers say Jaxi Builders’ decision to shed its waterfront land has more to do with product type than market conditions, though, and that the vacant 5.7-acre property might be better received as a site for apartments, a hotel or a combination of the two.
Jaxi has retained Fort Myers-based commercial real estate brokerage LSI Cos. to market the former Allure and One tracts, at 2583-2589 First St., for sale, according to offering materials.
“The city of Fort Myers has really taken steps over the past few years to promote new residential growth downtown,” says Justin Thibaut, LSI’s chief operating officer.
“And until now, not all of the pieces were in place to foster that growth. Today, there are places to work, dine and recreate and a lot of people want to live downtown and in the River District — that wasn’t there a decade ago,” Thibaut adds.
He notes, too, that city officials are “actively working” to lure younger residents to Fort Myers’ urban core.
Jaxi’s Allure project was perhaps the most ambitious of a handful of residential offerings proposed for downtown Fort Myers in the past five years that were slated to yield some 600 residences.
The company’s decision to shed the properties also raises questions about other proposed developments that have yet to begin construction, including Prime Luce, another condo project proposed for First Street.
There, MacFarlane Barney Development has plans for two 22-story residential towers containing 220 units.
"(MacFarlane Barney) has tweaked its floor plans for Prima Luce to provide for smaller units, which is what the market has been demanding," says Christopher Spiro, head of public relations firm Spiro & Associates, of Fort Myers, which has been working with the firm on Prima Luce.
"They understand the psyche of the Southwest Florida buyers because of their long track record in the area."
The Allure project’s twin 32-story towers were designed to contain 292 units and 11,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, on a 4.98-acre tract that contains roughly 400 feet of frontage on the Caloosahatchee River.
Jaxi also had planned to develop a marina with as many as 40 boat slips on a portion of submerged land as part of the 2589 First St. project.
At 2583 First St., Jaxi had proposed One, a 21-story condo tower containing 34 units and 1,388 square feet of commercial space, also fronting the Caloosahatchee River.
Jaxi had hoped to complete One sometime last year and Allure in 2020.
Both sites also come with significant entitlements, infrastructure and government incentives in place.
At the Allure site, which is zoned Urban Core, phase one entitlements are in place through September 2021, while a second phase remains viable through 2026.
The project also received $15 million in tax incentives good for a decade, LSI materials indicate.
The One tract, with Planned Unit Development zoning, received $4.25 million in tax incentives over the same period.
The two sites also now contain a 12-inch water main and Allure has a pile system in place valued at $4.5 million.
Jaxi Builders Vice President Eduardo Caballero did not return telephone calls regarding the Fort Myers properties, and employees in the firm’s Miami offices declined to comment on the decision to sell and say they have “no more information” on the proposed projects.
Thibaut says LSI hopes to select a buyer for the Allure and One sites before the end of the year.
“There’s not a lot of opportunity for riverfront development in Fort Myers, especially on parcels that have entitlements and infrastructure in place,” he says.
“The key here is going to be differentiation of product types,” Thibaut adds. “It’s going to be a matter of delivering the right product to the market.”
Thibaut acknowledges, however, that any residential and hospitality project proposed to replace Allure and One would likely have to be either high-end or luxury oriented based on the land costs.
He maintains, however, that the demise of Allure and One are not a signal that the Southwest Florida market has peaked.
Thibaut points to the ongoing development of the $80 million Luminary Hotel project and the revamping of the city’s Harborside Event Center as evidence that Fort Myers’ momentum continues.
The 12-story Luminary hotel, under construction now by Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging and Development, is expected to open early next year.
Upon completion, the 243-room hotel will become part of Marriott International Inc’s Autograph Collection, which also includes the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa and the Art Ovation hotel in downtown Sarasota.
“Luminary has really catalyzed increased development in downtown Fort Myers,” Thibaut says. “It’s only a good sign to have that kind of institutional capital and the caliber of the Marriott flag in downtown.”
The Allure and One sites, he believes, will also attract interest from significant developers.
“It’s a unique site that’s positioned for a unique buyer,” Thibaut says.