Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dear Mayor, City Council and City Manager,

As the City looks at the difficult decision for the old Golf Club of whether to permit the single family residential zoning to move forward for the old Golf Club property (175 acres) in downtown Southeast Cape Coral or, I imagine, potentially face legal action from the property owner who wishes to sell his property for single family development, it may be worthwhile for everyone to pause and look at a comparison with the San Antonio River Walk's economic impact and whether there are lessons in it that might be amenable for our very young, 60 year old city. (See the 2015 study of the "Impact of the San Antonio River Walk" at  https://www.sara-tx.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Download-the-San-Antonio-River-Walk-Impact-Study-April-2014.pdf. )

Table 1. Annual Economic Impact of San Antonio River Walk (2014 $)
Impact Type        Employment             Income                                Output
Direct Effect         21,294                      $571,718,278                       1,807,908,085
Indirect Effect        5,086                       $231,329,230                       $690,928,900
Induced Effect       4,698                       $198,146,016                       $597,066,199
Total Effect          31,077                       1,001,193,524                    $3,095,903,185
  •  "...the River Walk attracted about 9.3 million non-resident visitors whose main reason for coming to the area was to visit the River Walk over the twelve-month time period of this study." (2014-2015). The River Walk encompasses a large area. 
  • "They spend about $2.4 billion each year, which supports more than 31,000 jobs. The people in these jobs earn incomes and benefits of over $1 billion. 
  • The economic impact is about $3.1 billion per year, as shown in Table 1. This economic activity results in about $173 million flowing to various state and local government agencies, and almost $201 million in revenues being generated for the federal government.." 
  • "The San Antonio River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio, contains 2,020 acres of public lands with the San Antonio River running through it. 
  • An ordinance to create the River Walk District: "On March 28, 1962, the City of San Antonio City Council passed an ordinance that created a River Walk District and seven member River Walk Advisory Commission. The ordinance was ... based on similar ordinances from Carmel, California and New Orleans’ Vieux Carre Commission. Following this lead, the San Antonio Chapter of the American Institute of Architects created a plan for the Paseo del Rio. In 1964, the Paseo del Rio Association was formed."
  • This is substantially larger than Central Park in New York City (843 acres), Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (1,017 acres), and the Chicago lakeside parks (1,440 acres). 
  • The River Walk is a mix of restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, businesses, museums, historical sites, and recreation areas." 
So, while relevant, it is substantially larger and more diverse than anything that the City of Cape Coral could  create with the 175 acre Golf Club project combined with the Bimini Basin 48.3 acres and the canal between them, it could indeed create an economic and cultural destination that could put Cape Coral on the map over time.

Questions/Comments for Council:
  • Rather than granting the existing or a potential new owner the ability to divvy up the land into more single family plots or potentially face a costly legal challenge in court, which neither the present owner or future owner or the City of Cape Coral should wish to entertain, can the City begin earnest negotiations to find alternative funding sources, public/private partnerships and/or land grants type funding to create a viable development plan that eventually can creates a much more profitable Destination Project, similar to a San Antonio River Walk?  While tried before, the City's newly contracted Bimini Basin manager could assist in this endeavor, creating a development district.
  • While the city has numerous projects that require substantial amounts of funding, once lost, this valuable piece of property, the old Golf Club, cannot be put back together again.  It and its' potential will be lost forever.  You cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again and this City desperately needs to maintain and effectively utilize its few large parcels of land, especially in the SE quadrant of the City. 
  • Why should the northern sections of the city care about taking scare financial resources from other worthwhile projects? Consider that waterfront properties that connect with the River, such as Bimini Basin project can have a profound long-term impact on the entire city's financial health and quality of life as an important entertainment area.  We need a more diversified, less single-family tax-based structure as a city.  Connecting Bimini Basin (43.8 acres) with this 175 acres along a canal which links to the river is one such opportunity that once missed cannot be recaptured.  
  • This project could become an economic engine for the city. If this project eventually attracts even one quarter of the the 9.3 million visitors a year to San Antonio Riverwalk and generates even one quarter of the economic benefit of over $3 billion a year that River Walk creates and generates only one quarter of the 31,000 jobs that River Walk creates, it would be worthwhile as an economic engine for the city.
  • This may require a public/private partnership and/or grants and/or eventual rezoning to allow restaurants, shops and higher building heights to populate a portion of these properties, although parks with trails & walkways also have economic value for a city as I noted in an earlier email to you.  There are many examples of positive public/private partnerships, but allowing this land to be divvied up into more single family acreage makes no long-term economic sense.  The long-term benefits that as a City Council you are charged by your constituency to take into consideration cry out for more innovative, long-term thinking even if legal action may be a possibility, but hopefully can be avoided through effective negotiations. What cannot happen is for the owner to keep sitting on valuable property and the city to have its hands tied so that effective negotiations are not possible.  Let's move the dial in a positive manner.
  • Do not allow single family homes to be built on this property.  It would be a long-term economic short sightedness.
  • Do move the dial so effective re-negotiation while difficult becomes possible.
With sincere thanks for your hard work and consideration as you make difficult, consequential long-term decisions for our city.  This is an extremely important one.  PS:  I don't live in SE Cape Coral, but as a long-term resident, I appreciate the economic and quality of life value of SE Cape Coral for our entire community's quality of life and economic viability. 


Carolyn Conant-Adair
2616 SW 51st Street
Cape Coral, FL. 33914