2006-08-17, 10:29

By: Jonathan Groner
The following interesting article is from Multi-Housing News. This new development in Fort Myers, Fla., seems to combine two of this century's most interesting housing trends: mixed-use planning and "green" or environmentally friendly buildings.

Do the same kinds of residential tenants who flock to mixed-use developments and shun traditional suburbia also prefer "green" buildings? So do the two ideas naturally go together? That's an interesting marketing and business question. Here is the article.

By Diana Mosher, Editor-in-Chief

AUGUST 01, 2006 -- Fort Myers, Fla.—As some modernists continue to oppose the traditional design aesthetic typically associated with new urbanism, more and more of these communities are in the works across the country to bridge the gap between urban and suburban living.

In Lee County, Fla., The Fountains, a mixed-use project being planned by SouthStar Development Partners—with equity sponsor L.M. Sandler & Sons—is touted as a cost-effective alternative to outmoded suburban development patterns, created in the 1960s.

Scheduled to be built in two phases from 2007 to 2016, The Fountains will offer 4,215 residential units in a range of housing choices for residents of various income levels and all ages and stages of life—from single-family homes to urban-style condominiums and apartments. It will also include 900,000 square feet of retail and office space and a 1.5-million-sq.-ft. research and flex-space district, two schools, a library, parks, and a fire and sheriff's department. The now-familiar goal is to create an urban environment that's pedestrian friendly and environmentally sound—a setting that encourages people to live, work and play all in the same area.

A pivotal aspect of the project is SouthStar's zoning proposal to create a new, comprehensive land plan usage designation known as a Town Center District (TCD). Under the proposal, the area would be zoned to integrate residential, commercial, office and civic uses "as a cohesive unit in order to promote visual compatibility, reduce dependence on the automobile and promote pedestrian movement, utilize joint parking and access, avoid negative impacts on surrounding land uses and traffic circulation, protect natural resources, and provide necessary facilities and services to serve the proposed uses of the district." SouthStar is currently awaiting a decision in the zoning amendment for the site.

"Lee County clearly endorses the goal of smart growth and has identified New Urbanist, mixed-use communities as a tool for achieving it," says Kimball Woodbury, managing director of SouthStar, based in Coral Gables, Fla. "The Town Center District designation would be a natural first step toward turning this goal into a reality. The Fountains is a model for the type of place-sensitive development that the Fort Myers area needs at this point in its growth."

The Fountains will encompass 2,769 acres. The TCD designation would allocate a minimum of 40 percent of the gross site acreage as conservation areas and a minimum of 10 percent of the gross acreage for active and passive recreational uses including parks, an 18-hole golf course built to comply with Audubon Sanctuary Program standards, nature trails, lakes and waterways. SouthStar will hire green design and construction specialists to include environmentally friendly elements such as green roofing and low-volume plumbing fixtures.

The average dwelling size of the for-sale and for-rent units is from 2,000 to 2,600 square feet. These high-density lots will feature shared parking areas off the street and behind the units as well as on-street parking for guests. Layouts will incorporate Internet/tech amenities and gourmet kitchens. The buyer profile is singles, couples and young families.

The buyer profile for coach homes, which will range from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, will be young singles and couples, pre-family singles and couples, young families and older couples. Coach homes will be alley-loaded with on-street parking, minimal front-yard setbacks and occasional low privacy fences.

Courtyard homes will also be available with an average lot size of 2,700 square feet and an average dwelling size of 1,200 to 2,200 square feet. In addition to promoting a strong quality of life for area residents, The Fountains will aim to provide cost-efficient infrastructure services from water delivery to waste removal, while building a strong, sustainable and diversified employment tax base.


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