So home sales are up and prices are down. What does this mean for us in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral-Bonita Springs area?
Actually it means a lot when you consider all that has taken place over the past 3 years. Our area underwent one of the most torrid times in real estate history. Demand was absurd, prices were appreciating at a ridiculous rate, speculation was rampant and things quite frankly were out of control.
Now we see a sign of things returning to normal. The number of sales are on the increase as more and more people are coming in to an area that has much to offer. When the boom began, many wondered whether the infrastructure could sustain such growth. First of all was the public services factor. The county and cities reacted swiftly, new fire stations and police stations were constructed and manpower has grown. Health systems have increased, the expansion of Gulf Coast Hospital, Healthpark, and the construction of a trauma center on Colonial Blvd greatly decrease the workload on any one hospital. With these expansions comes employment.
Also in the public sector, we see many road projects underway. The long overdue expansion of I-75 is underway and on schedule. This creates a much needed relief for southwest Florida drivers. US-41 is undergoing the process of widening and resurfacing. Projects linking major thoroughfares are on the move in places such as Estero. The connection of Ben Hill Griffin parkway to US-41 by way of Estero Parkway is on schedule. Three Oaks Parkway from The Brooks in Bonita Springs to Daniels Parkway is underway. Treeline Avenue, Livingston Parkway, and Plantation Avenue are all nearing completion. The flyovers on Summerlin Avenue at Gladiolus and San Carlos are complete. All of these major projects give the area much needed travel relief.
Next came the schools. A massive building expansion ensued to meet the need for more classrooms. New high schools included Ida Baker, South Fort Myers, East Lee County and Gateway Charter. Elementary and middle schools such as Treeline, River Hall soon followed. The Lee County school system acquired new land and remodeled the old mall on Colonial Blvd as an administration center.
Then came the retail sector. And did it ever arrive! Coconut Point, the Simon project in Estero, opened with a flourish. This outdoor lifestyle shopping district brought the live/work concept to a reality with new condominium residences over the retail stores, movie theatres and dining of all kinds adorn the streets. Big box retailers and small shops peacefully coexist within the same grounds. Gulf Coast Town Center, the Jacobs project in south Fort Myers stepped up. Many new retailers lined up alongside one of the best dining districts to create an excellent pedestrian shopping experience. Miromar Outlets in Estero is in the process of completing its' latest phase. The Edison Mall in Fort Myers underwent major renovation and expansion. Cape Coral also got in to the act with Pine Island Road becoming a shopping and dining center for the city.
What is the outlook for the area? It is good. Lee County metro area population stands at 591,000, with a projection of a 5-year annualized job growth of 5.4% Forbes.com ranks it as one of the best areas for growth over the next 20 years. The housing boom created jobs and attracted people, as Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area had the country's second-highest net migration since 2003. According to the most recent U.S. Census information, Cape Coral was the fourth fastest growing U.S. city with a population of more than 100,000. By 2012, average personal income of its residents is expected to grow by 6.9% annually--second only to Naples, Fla. During that time, the area's population is also forecast to grow by 13.3%.
So with housing becoming more affordable combined with property tax and insurance reform, and along these other economic factors southwest Florida still seems like a good place to be.
Thanks for reading God Bless,