Plans Announced for University Enhancement Project
FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), The Ginn Company and Alico Inc. today announced plans for a significant gift and redevelopment project on 5,406 acres immediately east and north of Florida Gulf Coast University. The project is designed to redevelop existing mining and agricultural operations and to reclaim exotic-infested lands adjacent to the University into a master-planned, mixed-use community that will enhance FGCU, the proposed Florida Gulf Coast Technology & Research Park and the region.
“Today’s announcement marks a momentous opportunity to advance Florida Gulf Coast University 20 years ahead of our master plan,” said FGCU President Bill Merwin. “A recently completed campus master plan warned us of the lack of available buildable land on the footprint of the University’s campus, and since then, we have been seeking additional land for academic purposes. The Ginn Company’s generous gift will double the amount of our buildable land on campus and enable FGCU to meet its future growth needs.” Merwin explained that The Ginn Company has committed to provide the University with facilities, program funding and land totaling $13.9 million. The gift will be eligible for a $7.5 million match from the state, bringing the gift to a total of $21.4 million.
The Ginn Company’s gift includes:
-- 100 acres of land as the site for the School of Engineering.
-- $7.5 million for the building of the School of Engineering complex of buildings. This amount is eligible for a 100 percent match by the state.
-- $2 million for School of Engineering operating costs, with a naming opportunity for the School’s Environmental Engineering program.
-- The trade of 215 acres of land currently owned by the FGCU Foundation for 215 acres of comparable land owned by The Ginn Company adjacent to the 100 acres donated by the company.
-- Establishment of two road connectors to the new 315-acre parcel of FGCU land.
Plans for the new FGCU land include the University’s School of Engineering, a
faculty/staff residential complex and the President’s Home. The University also plans to seek additional donors to build new buildings for the College of Business and a continuing education center for programs like those in FGCU’s Renaissance Academy.
“The University’s long-range plans have always included a School of Engineering, and the Ginn gift places this goal much closer on the horizon,” Merwin said. “An FGCU School of Engineering within our College of Business will add a needed component to developing a sophisticated technological and research infrastructure in Southwest Florida, while also diversifying the economy with high-skill, high-wage jobs. The opportunities for students, employers and workforce development will be significant, and we commend Bobby Ginn for sharing our vision for Southwest Florida.”
The redevelopment plan unveiled by FGCU, The Ginn Company and Alico Inc., requests an amendment to the Lee County Comprehensive Plan for the establishment of a University Enhancement and Resort land-use classification on the project site. The site is located east of
I-75, north and south of Alico Road and north of Corkscrew Road in areas currently designated as University Village and Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DRGR). The proposed redevelopment plan amendment details The Ginn Company’s plans to create a self-sustaining, mixed-use community on land that has previously been impacted by mining, agricultural uses and exotic infestation.
“We intend to restore the environment and repair many of the environmental scars that currently exist on this property,” said Bobby Ginn, president and chief executive officer of The Ginn Company. “Additionally, it is our hope that many of the students who participate in FGCU’s Environmental Engineering program will one day provide education and assistance to developers seeking to improve areas in need of environmental repair.”
“The proposed master plan will allow us to take a very comprehensive approach to creating wildlife corridors, managing natural resources and removing exotics, while providing significant enhancements for FGCU, support facilities for the R & D Park and a quality residential community for the region,” said Richard Woodruff of WilsonMiller, who is leading the project’s planning team. He explained that 100 percent of the property has been previously impacted.
The proposed redevelopment plan includes four golf courses that will be built to Audubon International Signature Sanctuary standards with 1,172 acres of lakes and 27 miles of shoreline. The low-density community will include 1,400 lakefront homes for a total density of three-tenths units per acre, as compared to the customary 2.5 units per acre.
The Comp Plan Amendment is scheduled for submittal to Lee County within the next year. The plan specifies restoration and preservation of approximately 1,200 acres of the total site. The total impervious surfaces proposed for the 5,406-acre project are approximately 500 acres, or less than 10 percent of the project.
The Ginn Company, a resort real estate sales and marketing, development, hospitality, construction and golf company, is one of the largest resort residential development companies in Florida. The company’s principals have more than three decades experience developing master-planned communities around the country.
In addition to its project in Southwest Florida, the company is currently developing nearly 6,000 acres in the greater Orlando, Fla., area including the 2,300-acre Reunion Resort & Club, a resort community that will feature a mix of real estate, hotels, vacation ownership and other resort-based amenities, a 1,500-acre project near Lake Apopka and more than 2,000 acres near the Orlando International Airport.
The company also is developing the 1,000-acre Hammock Beach near Palm Coast, Fla.; 1,400-acre Preservation Row near Charleston, S.C.; and the 1,400-acre upscale golf club community, Tesoro, near Stuart, Fla.