With all eyes on Estero following the move of car rental Hertz’s corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Estero last year, 10,000 Estero residents signed a petition to become a municipality known as the Village of Estero. While the area is north of Naples and south of Fort Myers, Estero has remained unincorporated but its status many soon change.
Estero is now one of the hottest areas for development in the region thanks to the move by Hertz. In March, developers, residents, lawyers, and engineers attended a conference together to discuss growth pressures on the area hosted by the Urban Land Institute entitled “All Eyes on Estero.” Controversial issues debated at the conference included traffic congestion, housing density, environmental impact, health care and job creation.
Formerly a farming area, Estero has transformed with residential development, new shops and malls and now Hertz is planning to build a corporate campus on the corner of U.S. 41 and Williams Road. Hertz plans to employ 700 people in 2 buildings. The county recently widened U.S. 41 through Estero to accommodate the road traffic. Becoming a city could offer Estero residents many benefits (i.e., federal grants). Estero has an advantage of lots of vacant land but some worry it will lead to sprawl and too much commercial growth because some residents want a more pedestrian-friendly environment and smaller homes. Over 30% of the residents live in Estero part-time (Snowbirds) and over 50% of the population are over age 65. Estero’s cityhood measure passed the state Senate unanimously and now needs Gov. Rick Scott’s signature before appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot.