Construction Companies See Increase In Groundbreakings

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Dirt is flying throughout Southwest Florida.

Many construction companies are seeing an uptick in groundbreaking projects, and for an industry notably impacted by the recession, this is a welcomed — and long awaited — indicator.

“I’d definitely think it’s an improvement over where we’ve been the past four years,” said Jeff Hunt, president of EHC Inc.

EHC is a Naples-based construction company that provides pre-construction, earthwork and infrastructure services. It broke ground on five projects during the first quarter, bringing its total to nine active projects in Southwest Florida.

Its most visible groundbreaking is the Hertz global headquarters being built in Estero. EHC won the multimillion-dollar contract by Turner Construction Co. for phase I to provide earthwork and infrastructure services, such as clearing, excavation, grading, paving, off-site improvements, underground utilities, sidewalks and site amenities.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “It’s a high-profile job.”

Rich Broome, executive vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Hertz, said the global headquarters hasn’t really begun excavating yet because it took a little longer to complete financing. However, he expects it will begin this month. And Hunt said EHC has begun other parts of the contract, such as clearing and preparation for the site work. Excavating is only a small part of the contract.

EHC is also working on a new Sam’s Club at Pine Island Road and Hancock Bridge Parkway in Cape Coral, as well as various transportation improvement projects.

During the past several years, Hunt said the available private sector work has been mainly small, in-fill commercial projects, and the company survived on transportation and government-based projects. It was only recently, he said, that larger private sector work in commercial, retail and office buildings picked back up.

“All the other industries that we service … that’s coming back online,” he said.

Yet EHC isn’t the only company with a surge of groundbreakings.

“This is the year that you’re going to see commercial new construction,” said Gary Tasman, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida.

Tasman said the uptick in commercial construction is caused by a combination of things: commercial land prices are still low, construction costs are increasing but not as high as most people expect they’ll be, the housing market is recovering, there’s a low interest rate environment and impact fees have been reduced.

DeAngelis Diamond Construction Inc., based in Naples, has started 10 projects since December.

“We see a very good ’14 and a very good ’15,” said Jay Waltbillig, principal and vice president of DeAngelis Diamond Construction.

One of its bigger projects is The Arlington of Naples senior living community. DeAngelis Diamond Construction started its roughly $70 million project in December, and this is a joint venture with Archer Western.

DeAngelis Diamond Construction also began work on a memory care facility at Terracina Grand, and it recently broke ground on a fire station for the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District.

Waltbillig said senior living has become a large market, and the fastest growing, for the company, but it has also seen an increase in new construction for private sector commercial projects and multifamily living projects.

GCG Construction Inc. in Estero finished renovating the headquarters for Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida in December. The same month, it began construction for a 6,500-square-foot Goodwill Retail & Donation Center in Moore Haven.

It’s renovating MarineMax Naples and expects to begin work on an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in May.


New EHC projects

EHC Inc., a Naples-based construction company that provides pre-construction, earthwork and infrastructure services, broke ground on five projects during the first quarter of 2014:

Hertz global headquarters in Estero

A contract by Turner Construction Co. to develop phase I of the Hertz global headquarters in Estero.

Sam’s Club in Cape Coral

EHC is working with R.A. Rogers Construction Co. to develop about 38 acres for a new Sam’s Club at the intersection of Pine Island Road and Hancock Bridge Parkway.

U.S. 41 and County Road 951 Intersection Improvements in Naples

Community Asphalt Corp. has engaged EHC to perform earthwork and infrastructure services for the U.S. 41 and County Road 951 intersection improvements in Naples.

Winchester Boulevard Extension in Englewood

Zep Construction awarded EHC a contract to provide site construction services for a nearly three-mile extension of Winchester Boulevard in Englewood.

I-75 bridge upgrade over the Caloosahatchee River

EHC is teaming up with Ajax Paving Industries to provide the base rock layer for the asphalt portions for the I-75 bridge project over the Caloosahatchee River.

Things To Do In Cape Coral

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• Farmers Market Fresh farmers market located in the large field next to Gulf Coast Village. This farmers market will be every Thursday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Locally grown produce, fresh pickles, jewelry, plants, sunglasses, food trucks and a lot more come check it out. Gulf Coast Village, 1333 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral, 785-8361.

Southwest Florida Marine Mammals Learn about the fascinating marine mammals found in our local waters, where you can go to see them and what time of year is the best time to look. (All Ages). 2-3 p.m. Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral, 549-4606.

In-Door Cardio Tennis Program An indoor tennis experience that is a lot of fun and will burn calories. Instructor Paul Segodo is a former Davis Cup professional tennis player from the country of Benin who came to America at the age of 9 to represent his country playing tennis. He has provided tennis instruction for more than 10 years to students of all ages and all tennis levels, and he still competes regularly. 8-9 a.m. $12. Lake Kennedy, 400 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral, 574-0575.

Karate for Self Defense All techniques are taught by Hilmar Fuchs in a fun, safe atmosphere. Participants do not need to be well coordinated or in top physical condition. Class typically meets on Fridays and sometimes on Saturdays from 9-10 a.m. Be sure to get an accurate schedule from the park office or instructor. Please register in advance. 18+ years. noon-4 p.m. $35 Cape Resident / $53 Non-Cape Resident. Eco Park, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, East end of S.E. 23rd Terrace, Cape Coral, 549-4606.

Cape Coral Farmers Market Approximately 100 of Southwest Florida’s finest vendors offering fresh, local and healthy produce and foods. Certified organic produce, Gulf-fresh seafood and Pine Island clams, fresh breads, pickles and olives, native plants, fresh cut flowers and orchids, cheeses, homemade jams, jellies and sauces, local honey and more. Live music each week, twice a month antique and craft Market. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Club Square in downtown Cape Coral, SE 47th Terrace and SE 10th Place, Cape Coral, 549-6900.

• Cape Coral Hobby Club Learn card making, scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, bunka, seasonal crafts and more. The cost is $1. Meet every Monday from 9-11:30 a.m. Cape Coral Yacht Club. Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral. $1. 560-5472.

Zumba Fitness Ditch the workout and join the party! Brickhouse Cardio Club offers a fun and supportive atmosphere where you can focus on your fitness goals. Come out, get fit, make friends, and have fun. Call Carrie for information at 239-424-6111. Mondays and Wednesday-Saturday from 10-11 a.m.; Monday-Friday, 6-7 p.m. $7 per class or memberships for unlimited classes. Brickhouse Cardio Club, 311 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, 443-0061.

Free Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House Tour every Monday, Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Reservations are not required. Courtesy of the Friends of Wildlife. Donations accepted. Call 549-4606, email for information. Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral. or

Cape Coral Quilters Guild Meets every Monday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and welcomes those interested in quilting. For details, call or email Dianne Zinszer at 220-4555 or or go to They also accept donations of fabric to be used in our charity quilts. Annual dues $25. Christ Lutheran Church, 2911 Del Prado Blvd. S, Cape Coral.

Nar-Anon Meeting If you are the relative or friend of a person with a drug problem, the Nar-Anon Family Group may be able to help solve your side of the problem. Nar-Anon helps the family of the user attain serenity and a more normal home life, regardless of whether or not he/she has stopped using. Meetings are every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.. IUPAT Union Hall, 814 SE 46th Lane, Cape Coral. 1-888-947-8885.

Sunset Celebration Experience the beauty of Southwest Florida’s amazing sunsets at the Cape Coral Yacht Club for the Sunset Celebration on the first Wednesday of every month. Listen to live music on the beach by Barbara Dexter, shop from over 40 vendors selling unique crafts, jewelry and other gift items, or take a stroll on the pier and watch the beautiful sunset. A free shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 4820 Leonard Street. 5-8 p.m. Cape Coral Yacht Club, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral. 574-0806

Zumba with Rebecca Frey Every Tuesday at 5 p.m. and Wednesday at noon, come join an exciting cardio workout. $7. Lake Kennedy Center, 400 Santa Barbara Blvd, Cape Coral, 574-0575.

New Restaurants, Retail Coming To Hot Alico Road Corner

Site work is underway now for a retail construction project that will bring a handful of restaurants and retail shops just northwest of Gulf Coast Town Center.

Development plans for the 22.5-acre parcel feature several restaurants, including Chili’s, Tijuana Flats, B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, and PDQ, a new concept by the founders of Outback Steakhouse with a menu centered on chicken tenders.

Road and utility construction is first up for University Plaza West and that is scheduled to be finished in June so that the restaurants can begin construction, said Frank Mirasola, vice president of Vantage Properties, the project developer.

“The size and scope of Gulf Coast Town Center has created this large demand because the large customer base is coming from pretty far away just to shop and have a meal there,” Mirasola said. “These restaurant companies don’t spend millions of dollars on new locations unless they know they have the customer demand for them.”

B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, which features craft beer, burgers and pizza, has 15 locations in Florida.

PDQ, which stands for “People Dedicated to Quality,” according to the restaurant website, was founded in Tampa in 2011 by Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham and MVP Holdings CEO Nick Reader.

Vantage purchased the land for University Plaza for $4.5 million in December from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The land stretches from the northern entrance road to Gulf Coast Town Center south of Alico Road west to the Interstate 75 interchange. Negotiations are still underway with tenants for the land nearest the interstate and could include additional restaurants, shops, offices or a hotel, Mirasola said.

The project is one of several in the works near Gulf Coast Town Center. Commercial real estate broker Steve Cunningham, a partner with LandQwest Commercial in Fort Myers, said the area promises to see plenty of construction for years to come.

“During the recession, the retailers really pulled in their horns and were just focused on trying to maintain the status quo and surviving,” Cunningham said. “Now, they are ready to get back to work. Projects like these take one or two years of planning, so there will be things happening there for some time.”

Cunningham said Gulf Coast Town Center and Florida Gulf Coast University combine to be very attractive to retailers.

“It has the perfect mix of people because you have middle to upper-income residents in the neighborhoods nearby and then you have the college students,” Cunningham said.

Today’s Closets Are Anything But…

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More than 100 years ago a hook on the back of the door was all a person usually needed for their clothes. When closets first came in fashion at the beginning of the 20th century they were just little recesses in the wall.

These reach-in closets were about 3 feet deep, 4 feet wide and were composed of only a rod and a shelf above. The last two decades of the century came with a new trend in walk-in closets; a simple narrow space with clothes hanging on either side.

About a decade ago his-and-her walk in closets became the popular trend. Those closets still were simply a place to hang clothes and maybe a few shelves.

That’s now changed in Southwest Florida’s upscale homes, where closets are now almost as large as a room. These closets feature built-in cabinets with everything from drawers and shelves to specialty items.

“Closets are one of the new big things,” said Rob Woods, vice president of Michelangelo Custom Homes. “The well-heeled buyer does not want to feel cramped, especially the women, but now even the men.”

That’s why the closets in the Michelangelo Maison Coco model stretch most of the length of the hallway outside of the bedroom and are quite spacious inside.

The closet in London Bay’s Brighton model in Quail West is one of the most deluxe around. Along with shelves, drawers and hanging areas around the entire room, there is also an island with more drawers and shelves below and a huge countertop. There are three closets with mirrored fronts that pull out to form a three-way mirror. It has a pullout ironing board and even a window bench for relaxing.

“Our people just have a lot of clothes,” real estate agent Teri Speech said about her clients. “They are wealthy people. They would rather have a big separate closet than to transport everything.”

It’s not just single-family homes showcasing all the extra closet space. In the Aqua condos in North Naples, the closets are also like entire rooms.

“Luckily our wardrobe down here does not require four changes of seasons,” It’s shorts and golf attire, said Darline Hillard, director of sales for Aqua. “But they still want their closet space.”

Michael Hawkins, co-owner of EBL, a North Naples based business, says customers use their closets for more than storage and a place to put clothes.

“We’re seeing that more and more, people want it as a dressing room,” Hawkins explained.

While the trend started with homes in the $1 million-plus range, now homes around Lee and Collier counties that are far below that price are highlighting the extra closet space.

“There’s a big demand for closet space. This is one of the biggest closets for the size of the house,” said Diana Ibarria, senior vice president of the Naples division of CC Devco Homes, as she showed off a model home at Maple Ridge in Ave Maria.

Builders give a variety of reasons for the need for closet space. Some say the lack of basements and attics makes more storage areas a must, while others believe that people are just buying more clothes.

“His-and-her closets are a must these days,” said Jason Tracey of Tracey Quality Building in Cape Coral. In Florida you don’t have anywhere to store things. I get a lot of requests to make the bedroom a little smaller and the closets a little bigger.”

“We’re all buying more things. The master suite has larger closets,” added Dan Dodrill of Daniel Wayne Homes as he showed off his model in Horse Creek in Buckingham.

Even the interior design of these giant closets has changed from a shelf and rod to complete custom cubbies, shelves, shoe areasand more. Experts say it’s all part of their customer’s desire for better organization and an elegant space to dress each morning.

“We had to enlarge houses because people want bigger closets,” said David Gydosh, owner of Tundra Homes.


Lee County Real Estate Enters the Moderation Era

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Both foreclosures and new-home permits were little changed in February in Lee County as the real estate economy settled into something approaching normal after the wild swings of the past decade.

Contractors in the county pulled 213 single-family home permits in the month, up only slightly from 209 in January, the county’s municipalities reported Monday.

Meanwhile, lenders in the county filed 223 mortgage foreclosure lawsuits, about the same as the 216 in January,, according to statistics released Monday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.

There’s little chance foreclosures will rebound to the levels they reached six years ago when investors and home buyers were abandoning their mortgages, said Jeff Tumbarello, director of the association and owner/broker of North Fort Myers-based Steelbridge Realty.

At present, he said, “Over 60 percent of the home sales are cash. At some point there’s just not enough leverage to do it.”

Bob Knight, vice president and co-owner of Cape Coral-based Paul Homes, said the month’s steady numbers showed there was relatively strong demand three months ago when those home buyers were signing the deals that led to February’s permits.

Now, he said, further growth will depend in part on getting enough qualified tradesmen back in the market to support the “nice normal pace of 400” homes per month that the county sees in a healthy housing market.

That hasn’t happened yet, Knight said, because the plumbers and electricians who were working during the boom by and large have either gone on to new occupations or left the area entirely.

Now the construction jobs here are back but some of those workers are reluctant to get back into the business – still wary of another crash.

Even so, Knight said, the industry is starting to ramp up as demand grows: Some developers are building “on spec” (without a specific buyer committed. “Quite a few are rolling out right now and they’re being absorbed.”

Tumbarello said that normal market forces are starting to reassert themselves after years when foreclosures and a huge inventory of unsold homes created atypical conditions.

“Right now you’re looking at a rational market that’s driven by supply and demand, buyers and sellers,” he said.

Another wild wave of construction likely won’t happen now, Tumbarello said, because in most areas the price of existing homes still isn’t as high as the cost of replacing a typical home with new construction.

No Spring Slowdown for New-Home Sales?

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Single-family new-home sales surged in January to a five-and-a-half-year high, giving the industry new hope that the new-home sector isn’t heading for a slowdown this spring after all.

New-home sales rose 9.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units in January, the highest level since July 2008, the Commerce Department reports.

Regionally, new-home sales  in the South jumped 10.4 percent.

“The fact that the cold weather that hit much of the country didn’t stop home buyers from going out and purchasing a piece of the American dream is a great sign,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “However, the very low supply of new homes on the market and the continued concern of available buildable lots still have builders cautious about getting ahead of themselves.”

The inventory of new homes for sale held mostly steady in January, remaining at a tight 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace. Last month, housing starts had posted their largest decline in nearly three years, sparking concern that the new-home sector was headed for a downward spiral with rising mortgage rates and home prices.

But in January, new-home sales increased 2.2 percent from a year ago, and the median price of a new home rose 3.4 percent to $260,100 compared to year-ago levels. The pace of home-price rises has slowed in recent months, the Commerce Department notes.

How to Tell When a Neighborhood Will Be Hot!

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Bargain-hunting home buyers willing to purchase in an up-and-coming neighborhood can get a good deal and, as Trulia’s Michael Corbett says, “get in on the ground floor of appreciation.”

Here are five signs that a neighborhood is about to take off:

  1. An up-and-coming neighborhood often is characterized by retail or residential construction that is already in progress.
  2. They also often are found where trendy establishments, such as wine bars or farm-to-table restaurants, are opening.
  3. Buyers also should look for neighborhoods adjacent to big cities or those where crime is on the decline.
  4. Public building projects are on the rise.
  5. Renovated homes are going on the market.

America’s Fastest Growing Cities 2014: Cape Coral, FL

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14. Cape Coral, Fla.

MSA: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
Median Pay: $52,100
2013 Population Growth Rate: 2.41%
Unemployment Rate: 6.22%

It should be no surprise, Cape Coral is a growing community and has landed at number 14 of the fastest-growing cities in the USA. Contact us today for all of your Real Estate needs in and around beautiful Cape Coral Florida.

Florida boasts FOUR cities on Forbes’ Fastest Growing Cities of 2014 List.

The State of the Union is Getting Better for Homeownership

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WASHINGTON (January 28, 2014) – The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

“NAR commends President Obama for highlighting two key policy reforms during his State of the Union address tonight that support the future of homeownership and the business of real estate.

“Realtors® welcome the President’s call for legislation to keep the dream of homeownership alive for all Americans while protecting taxpayers from the risk of costly bailouts. NAR supports bipartisan legislation in the Senate that will restructure the secondary mortgage market to encourage private capital while also preserving the government guarantee so that middle-class homebuyers continue to have access to safe, reliable mortgage products, such as 30-and 15-year fixed-rate loans.

“President Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation to curtail the frivolous patent infringement lawsuits and licensing schemes that have unnecessarily cost Realtors® and other main street businesses valuable resources. NAR is working closely with legislators and allies to draft patent reforms that will combat these abusive trolling practices.

“NAR is ready and willing to work with President Obama and Congress to develop sound policies to promote and protect the American dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.