A plan for a traditional downtown, featuring a desirable village center that creates walkable public spaces connecting all 35-gated communities in Estero, has received widespread support from Estero residents. A packed meeting with residents this month updated them on negotiations with developers for a village center with residential and commercial spaces, sidewalks, and bike paths, in exchange for plans that will grant developers more housing units. Across all age groups—whether Millennials or Baby Boomers—people voiced a desire for a lifestyle with more walkable communities, less maintenance, and convenient access to shared amenities. The Village Center would be located west of the Estero Community Park in an empty plot of land east of US 41. The future adjacent Health Care Village would be near the Bonita Community Health Center south of Coconut Point Mall.
Estero residents have contributed to the planning process, recommending walkable higher density neighborhoods in a downtown mixed-use village center. The Vice Mayor has been leading the effort for months, and working with village officials and developers to craft a plan to add more housing development that also will include a vibrant downtown breeding a sense of community for Estero. Residents were asked for their input and to pick four top priorities from a list. The list was grouped into three tiers that the Village desires in exchange for certain concessions to developers. The top tier included a site for buildings, like a school or sheriff station, improving parks or existing public school and contributing space for a plaza or green space. A second tier includes trails for biking and hiking, a path to the Estero River, and public gathering spots. A third tier would be public green space, roadside face-lifts, and improved landscaping. The results of the resident survey will aid negotiations.
Discussions will begin in March and the Estero Village Council will need to adopt a detailed comprehensive plan to manage the community’s growth. The future Village Center would include more mixed-use housing and commercial space, housing, a separate Health Care Village, and transportation options in the recommendations of the Community plan Initiative Final report. The mixed-use Village Center and separate Health Care Village will give residents convenient access to local shopping and services. The area around the proposed Village Center is starting to boom. Hertz Rental Car’s global headquarters will open soon; Lee Memorial plans a health care village; and Marriott will open a new hotel in Coconut Point. The planning study should be completed by May 2016.