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Barron Collier lease agreement approved by Bonita Springs council for Imperial Crossings

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Riley Hazel
/
Democracy Watch for WGCU
Bonita Springs City Council approved the Barron Collier lease agreement for the Imperial Crossings area in a unanimous vote this morning after a second hearing and public comment.

Bonita Springs City Council approved the Barron Collier lease agreement for the Imperial Crossings area in a unanimous vote this morning after a second hearing and public comment.

Barron Collier representative Nick Casalanguida weighed in on the process before it was approved.

“We're excited,” Casalanguida said. We think the entitlement process will take 12 to 14 months. Hopefully by then, financially, [the market will] stabilize. We're excited to work with [Bonita Springs] and your team on getting this project out of the ground.”

The 5.3-acre property in the downtown area split by the Imperial River will be zoned for multi-use development of apartments, commercial and park space. A total of 115 rental units and 268 parking spaces are in the plans along with public access to the river and additional green space.

Public comments were heard from Bonita Springs residents.

“If you get a vote for this deal, please tell the people why and what facts you use to arrive at your decision,” Dwight Esmond told the county. “I think you owe the people that much.”

City Council representative Chris Corrie made sure to make note that the lease is not the final step in the process. The concept is able to change based on the financial market and construction costs, though the lease, which includes rent agreements and how the parties involved are able to exit the contract, is used as a guiding document.

Barron Collier will pay the city a base of $99,000 for the first year, stemming from the 2% of the predicted first year’s gross income, according to the lease agreement. The following year, the city will be paid an additional 2.5% of the gross revenue minus the base rent. Every 10 years, the developer will look to adjust the base rent based on the 2% average.

Trish Leonard of Bonita Springs is a business owner and president of the Bonita Springs Downtown Alliance. She hopes to get an office in the proposed building.

“I can tell you that the majority of the business owners that come to [these] meetings want to know when the project is going to get started,” Leonard said. “When are the shovels going to go into the ground? We keep delaying it and it’s not going to help us.”

Corrie motioned for a vote after hearing from several citizens. An applause was heard after a unanimous vote from commissioners, despite some representatives being uncertain just a month ago. Casalanguida went back to the podium to speak about the process following the vote.

“We're gonna continue to work with the city and the members that are out there,” Casalanguida said. “We are going to continue to tweak it to make it better. Our reputation means a lot to us, and we want to work with you. So we look forward to moving this project forward.”

The city bought the land for $2.6 million in 2002. Multiple attempts to develop the land have been made since, but none have succeeded until Barron Collier.

Barron Collier will now enter the design and permitting phase. Construction is slated for early 2024.

This story was produced by Democracy Watch, a news service provided by Florida Gulf Coast University journalism students. The reporter can be reached at  rjhazel4249@eagle.fgcu.edu