Our Listing Featured On News-Press This Week

IMG_8820

This Cape Coral property, listed by TechVenture Real Estate, is featured this week on News-Press.com:
TechVenture Real Estate: Porto Vista Condo in Cape Coral

Click here to learn more about 1522 S.W. 50th St., #202 and view the photo gallery! Contact Brett Gowdy, TechVenture Real Estate, at 239-945-6675 to schedule a showing or any of your real estate needs.

Housing Starts Up In Fort Myers/Naples Area

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 8.31.40 AM
Builders started construction on 818 houses in the Naples/Fort Myers housing market in the first quarter of 2014, up 21 percent from a year earlier, according to a report by Metrostudy, a national provider of housing data.

“Finished, vacant home supply continues to be virtually non-existent,” said David Cobb, Metrostudy’s Regional Director in the Naples Market. “Lee County has only a 0.7 month’s supply, while Collier remains below equilibrium as well at 1.7 months of supply. As in the previous quarter, this is a reflection that almost every home under construction has been sold.”

In Lee County, there were 381 lot deliveries in the first quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier.

The county has 6,902 vacant developed lots, down 5 percent from a year earlier, according to the report.

In addition to the developed lots, there are plans for 48,012 future lots. Many of these lots lie in the northern and eastern sections of the county, where development has been slow to recover.

Collier County housing starts rose 36 percent in the first quarter to 1,624. The annual starts rate has risen for 19 consecutive quarters, from a low of 399 in early 2009, the report states.

“Builders report that the labor market remains tight, which in some cases is limiting the supply of new homes,” said Cobb. “The supply of vacant, developed lots declined 9 percent year over year to 4,496.”

Cape Coral-Fort Myers Leads In All-Cash Home Sales

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 8.58.26 AM

 

Cape Coral-Fort Myers leads the nation in all-cash home sales, according to statistics released today by Irvine, Calif.-based housing data company RealtyTrac.

Nationally, the share of all-cash sales reached a new high in the first quarter even as the share of institutional investor purchases dropped to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012, said RealtyTrac’s Q12014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report.

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the top five highest percentages of cash sales were all in Florida: Cape Coral-Fort Myers (73.6 percent), Miami (67.1 percent), Sarasota, (65.1 percent), Palm Bay, (64.1 percent), and Lakeland, (61.8 percent).

“Strict lending standards combined with low inventory continue to give the advantage to investors and other cash buyers in this housing market,” Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a written release.

“The good news is that as institutional investors pull back their purchasing in many markets across the country, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers — including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers — to fill the vacuum of demand left by institutional investors,” Blomquist said.

15 percent of all-cash purchases in the first quarter were properties in the foreclosure process, and 10 percent were bank-owned properties.

Other findings in the report:

  • 11 percent of all-cash purchases in the first quarter were to institutional investors, investors buying at least 10 properties in a calendar year.
  • 52 percent of all-cash purchases in March (most recent month’s data only available for this metric) were sold to buyers with a different mailing address than the property address — indicating investors or second-home buyers. That compares to 34 percent of all sales — cash and financed — sold to investors or second-home buyers in March.

The average sales price of an all-cash purchase in the first quarter was $207,668 — 13 percent below the average estimated full market value of the properties that were purchased: $237,900.

Condo Market In SW Florida On The Rebound

Cape Harbour 1

Mike Banson recently handled the last sale of a bank-owned condominium at the 13-floor North Star Yacht Club on the Caloosahatchee River in North Fort Myers.

That’s a sign of the times in Southwest Florida, where the condo market has enjoyed a resurgence in the past year as single-family prices bounced back from the depths of the recession.

“I was the on-site agent for about six years, selling out all the bank-owned units,” said Banson, of Vision One Realty Group — the last unit, a penthouse, went for $531,000.

Naples-based land-use consultant Michael Timmerman, president of MJT Realty Economic Advisors, said the condo sector is doing well for sales prices, although for larger projects the cost of construction still makes it impossible to build new ones.

Projects building on a smaller scale have had better luck.

Jeff Barney, spokesman for Santa Luz LLC, said the company’s condominium Santa Luz, which started sales in February, is sold out of all but two units of the 20 in its first phase.

The project, off Daniels Parkway east of I-75 near JetBlue Park, consists of buildings with four units in each one.

“We had a very busy season,” said Barney, adding that another eight units will go up for sale within three weeks with 36 more to come.

“Most of the buyers we have are snowbirds and what they really get drawn to is the maintenance-free lifestyle,” he said. “They can leave for six months and come back and everything looks exactly the same.”

Because of its location in Gateway, Barney said, “We’re getting some young families. The last two we sold have been to folks about 40.”

Commercial real estate broker Steve Luta said he thinks there will be interest by builders in smaller projects in and around downtown Fort Myers.

That could offer a more urban lifestyle with buildings situated near the jobs, restaurants and nightlife of downtown, he said. “Some people don’t want the single-family home, lawn maintenance, pool, and all that stuff.”

Gary Tasman, founder and executive director of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida, said new construction such as Santa Luz and Neill Communities’ Villa Palmeras, are selling well in Lee County.

“There are already home builders building condos and they’re selling as fast as they can get out of the ground,” he said.

There would be a market for new high-rise condos as well, Tasman said, but that sector — hard hit when the market imploded at the end of 2005 — is still being sold cheaply enough that the cost of new construction is far more than buying an existing one.

Banson said that’s the case at North Star, where “a lot of the units may be in the $150-per-square-foot range. It would take $300 a square foot to build this product again.”

Towers will first rise again directly on the Gulf of Mexico between Estero to Marco Island, he predicted.

For that type of construction, “The prices need to push $500 a foot to be viable right now,” he said. “It’s probably $400 right now.”

Still, Tasman said, prices are rising fast and new Gulf-front towers may come sooner rather than later. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear an announcement of a new Gulf Front tower within the next 12 months.”

Connect with this reporter: @DickHogan (Twitter) or email dhogan@news-press.comBy Dick Hogan

Condo costs

The cost per square foot of building a Gulf-front skyscraper condominium:

• $250 hard construction costs

• $75 soft costs (marketing, advertising etc.)

• $81 25 percent developer profit

• $101 land

Things to do in Southwest Florida: April 25-May 4

Friday

Jennifer’s 10th Annual Art of a Woman Exhibit A variety of works will be showcased, including abstract and realistic painting, contemporary raku clay creations, painted furniture and whimsical sculptures. All will be available for purchase. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 14-26 at Jennifer’s Fort Myers boutique, 13451 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 481-8582

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 3.14.08 PM

 

Duo Romantico The singing couple performs opera, “popera,” musical-theater music and more at their last concert before going on tour. 7 p.m. $25. Italian-American Club of Cape Coral, 4725 Vincennes Blvd., Cape Coral. 332-1853

Rock the Dock This two-day event featuresfood and live entertainment by Deb and The Dynamics from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, followed Saturday by The Rachel Hughes Duo from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., the Cracker Blues Band from 2-5 p.m. and The Landsharks from 6-9 p.m. Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 W. First St., Fort Myers, 245-7320. marinaedisonford.com

 

Saturday

Balloons Over Paradise The two-day event features 60 hot-air balloons and performances by Sister Hazel, Rachel/Hughes Band and JJ McCoy. There will be delicious food, arts and crafts, tethered balloon rides, classic car show, dog agility performances, a polo exhibition and an equestrian drill team performance. 6 a.m.-noon. Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch Immokalee, 1195 State Road 29, Immokalee. 800-218-0007. seminoleimmokaleecasino.com

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 3.15.08 PM

 

• Fort Rock at JetBlue Park One of the biggest metal festivals to ever hit Southwest Florida. With 15 bands on two stages, the lineup includes Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Korn, Trivium, The Pretty Reckless, Lacuna Coil, Seether, Sick Puppies, Twelve Foot Ninja andBlack Stone Cherry. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. JetBlue Park, 11581 Daniels Parkway, Fort Myers. $54.50-$109.50 (excluding taxes and fees, prices subject to change). Parking: $15. Info: Fortrockfestival.com

 

Drive the Lane Celebrity Basketball Game This event is presented by MADD SWFL and Lee County Coalition for a Drug Free Southwest Florida. Hometown champions Earnest Graham and Jevon Kearse, as well as Jeff Dellenbach, Daunte Culpepper and Antonio Freeman, all former NFL players, will participate on the court. Our local heroes, law enforcement officers, firefighters, high school principals, coaches and student athletes will be their teammates. 1-4:30 p.m. $5 adults, $2 students. Bishop Verot High School 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. 791-7560. madd.org/drivethelane

Fight for Air Stairclimb The Stairclimb raises money for the American Lung Association by collecting pledges to ascend the stairway of High Point Place, the tallest building between Tampa and Miami. Teams can practice on Saturday mornings once they’ve registered. $25 registration fee; each climber must raise $100. High Point Place, 2104 W. First St., downtown Fort Myers, 908-2685. fightforairclimb.org

Sunday

Sunday Blues Benefit Great food and music will be served up at The Heights Foundation’s Sunday Blues from 2-6 p.m. Musicians Randy Thomas, Danny Shepard and Doug Molloy will entertain guests and Jake Elwood and friends will make a special appearance. The buffet features The Blue Coyote’s creative and original menu items. $50 per person; sales of wine and the Bacon & Egg Bloody Mary will be donated to The Heights Foundation. Blue Coyote Supper Club, 1100 Par View Drive, Sanibel Island. 472-9222. heightsfoundation.org

Florida Gulf Coast University Chamber Choir in Concert Admission is free for this concert, however there will be a free-will offering during the performance. 4 p.m. North Naples United Methodist Church, 6000 Goodlette Road N., Naples, 593-7600.

Taste of North Fort Myers Sample local food and drinks while enjoying entertainment, a car show, free kids games and activities, free petting zoo, raffles and more. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $3 per person, free for ages 5 and younger. Shell Factory and Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. 997-9111. tasteofnorthfortmyers.com

 

Monday

Black & White Party, an Evening of Beauty & Fashion This event celebrates the new Redken Premiere School of Cosmetology. Features hair by Redken 5th Ave stylists, a catwalk fashion show provided by White House Black Market and Fantasy Makeup by Cara and the FL Academy. RSVP to floridaacademy.eventbrite.com. 6-8 p.m. Florida Academy of Massage and Skin Care, 4387 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, 489-2282.

Wednesday

Boz Scaggs The singer-songwriter is on tour in support of his new release “Memphis,” showcasing both original songs and choice covers. 7:30-9:30 p.m. $49.82-$81.62. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers, 481-4849 or bbmannpah.com

Thursday

Prism Concert The Fort Myers High School music department will be divided into its varied components. You will hear and see the full instrumental, choral, dance groups, and a variety of soloists and small ensembles. 7 p.m May 1-2. $8. Fort Myers High School, 2635 Cortez Blvd, Fort Myers, 334-2167. fmhsgreenwave.net

• ArtsNaples World Festival Venetian Masquerade This event kicks off the weeklong arts festival in Naples. An Italian Carnevale atmosphere combines with a gourmet multicourse dinner and unique musical surprises. Guests’ attire to be Black Tie & Mask, or Masquerade Costumes. 7-10 p.m. Individual tickets $350 or $2,400 table for 8. The Club at Olde Cypress, 7165 Treeline Drive, Naples. 888-613-8488. ArtsNaples.org

May 2

Digital Lee Showcase 2014 A design and technology showcase of the most exceptional student projects from the Lee County Public School District. This year’s exhibit will debut on May 2 at 6 p.m. The competition is open to Lee County’s middle school, high school and post-secondary programs in graphic design, animation, publication design and Web design. Artwork will be displayed until May 22. Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., downtown Fort Myers, 939-6326. digital-lee.com

• Art Walk The free, monthly art event takes place from 6-10 p.m. the first Friday of every month. Art galleries and other businesses stay open late for art shows, live music, an after party and more. Downtown Fort Myers. fortmyersartwalk.com

May 3

13th Annual Free Comic Book Day A single day when participating comic book shops across North America give away free, specially produced comic books. Comics Cards and Stuff will promote the event with a large sale raffle and special giveaways, along with appearances by several “superheroes” and Star Wars Stormtroopers. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Comics Cards & Stuff, 3563 Fowler St., Fort Myers. 939-0878. facebook.com/fortmyerscomics

May 4

19th Annual Taste of the Beach featuring Baywalk Blues Festival Restaurants along Old San Carlos Boulevard, on Fort Myers Beach, will offer samples of their signature dishes and compete for top Taste of the Beach Award honors. Gates open at 11 a.m. Food will be served until it runs out or at 5 p.m. Tickets will be available on site. Admission is $5 for adults and children over 12. Food tickets are $1 each with a $5 average food serving price. 454-7500. tasteoffortmyersbeach.com

Third Annual International Food Festival Sample international cuisine from eight Mercato restaurants and enjoy live music. Most menu items will be priced less than $6. Kids’ Zone available featuring bounce house, arts and crafts and many other fun activities. Location: lawn next to MASA. Noon-4 p.m. Mercato Shops, 9115 Strada Place, Naples, 254-1080. mercatoshops.com/event/3rd-annual-international-food-festival/2145431190

Fleamasters’ Best-Dressed Chihuahua Contest event begins at 1:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 11 a.m. Enjoy a special performance by the Calendar Girls Dance Team at noon. Registration is $10 per dog. Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Fort Myers, 334-7001. fleamall.com

The Heights Foundation and Lee Reefs Present LionFish Fest – Feast on the Beast On Sunday, May 4 from 2-5 p.m. Join celebrated local chefs from Crave Culinaire, Three Fishermen, Red’s Seafood, Cru and The Timbers, as they present a unique twist on Florida fare. Guests will vote for their favorite dish. The event will include door prizes, fun auction items, a signature tropical drink and live music, as well as displays about Lionfish and our reefs. Mitch and Billy of ScubaNation television will be on hand showing their underwater videos. Katie Walls of WINK News will emcee the event. Admission is $50 per person, children under 12 are admitted free. Harlem Heights Cultural Arts and Community Center, 15570 Hagie Drive, Fort Myers, 482-7706. heightsfoundation.org

Lee County Home Sales Jump In March

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 4.53.39 PM

TechVenture Real Estate is happy to inform you that Single-family-home sales jumped in March, according to statistics released today by the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach.

A total of 1,068 homes were sold in March, up 37.1 percent from 779 in February.
However, the March sales were down 7.1 percent from March 2013, when 1,150 were sold.
The median sales price was $185,000 in March, the same as February but up 8.8 percent from March 2013.

Median price for condominiums in March was $162,000, up 4.5 percent from $155,000 in February.
Single-family homes spent a median of 48 days on the market before coming under contract in March, and the average home sold for 93 percent of its listing price. In March 2013 those numbers were 54 days and 93.6 percent.

Monitor Your Smart Home While Away

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.48.59 AM

This year many snowbirds won’t need someone to watch their house while they spend the summer up North. They can watch it themselves, even from thousands of miles away. That’s just the beginning. If a repair person needs to fix something in their home or deliver some furniture they can simply let that person in with the push of a button. Then they can watch the repair or delivery people in their home and lock up after them.

It’s all part of the new smart homes that are loaded with the latest technology. Vitex of Naples is one of the largest installers locally of these systems that make life so automatic people don’t even have to get up to answer the front door.

“If someone rings the doorbell, they can see who it is on their TV and then they can open the door for them,” explained Everette Evangelista, a control programmer for Vitex. “Everything can be controlled with a remote, iPad or TV.”

The technology can be used for everything from security and lights, to music, fans and air conditioning. It can be hooked to the pool to set the heat and temperature. Residents coming down from the North can heat up their pool, roll up their shutters, light up their house and cool down the temperatures before arrival.

“You can walk in the house, sit down and have the home do what you want,” Evangelista said. “You can be sitting on the couch and you can turn on the pool waterfalls and the jets. It controls every light in the house and you can dim it to your preference. Once you get in bed for the night you don’t want to get up to turn off the lights or control the temperature.”

Marcia Savage of North Naples says the lighting feature is one of her favorites.

“The lighting is really nice, especially with a large home you can create scenes for entertaining,” Savage began. “When I go to bed at night I can just hit a good night switch and it turns everything off so I don’t have to go around turning off all the lights.”

While Savage can’t open her doors with her system, she can see the outside of her home on her iPhone and can control everything from her lighting and music to her security system and air conditioning.

“I have an app on my iPhone so I can access everything from my phone. So that’s nice,” she said. “It’s very cool.”

The Vitex system is customized to what the homeowner wants. It can be as simple as just controlling the lights to as complicated as controlling almost everything in the home. The system runs from about $1,500 for just the lights to more than $250,000 for the works.

“Everyone lives in their home differently,” Evangelista said.

He begins with a 30 day generic technology package and then customizes it for the client. The system can be installed in both new and existing homes.

Hidden switches in closets allow less clutter on the walls. The brain of the operation is hidden in a utility room or garage.

Mark Wilson has a Vitex system in his Gulf Shore Boulevard condo.

“The important thing for us was to be able to control any source in any room,” Wilson said. “If we are playing music we can transfer it to any room in the house. If I want to listen to one thing and my wife wants to listen to another we have that ability.”

Wilson’s system is mostly for music, lighting and visual feeds.

“On the TV I can play multiple things from many sources. If we are watching a movie in the family room we can transfer that movie to any room in the house. It is automatic. Everything in the house is controlled from one central point. It is for the ease of living.”

Ease of living is the key Evangelista stressed. It’s also the wave of the future and Evangelista says it just keeps getting better.

“If you are not home you can see the pool guy cleaning the pool or you can see the housekeeper. It gives you peace of mind,” Evangelista continued. “Why spend money on a house watch guy when you can just pick up your iPad and see it yourself? Remember the cartoon ‘The Jetsons?’ We are getting there and we are getting there quick.”

Construction Companies See Increase In Groundbreakings

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 10.25.02 AM

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.

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…

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 9.44.29 AM

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.