Forum to discuss FPL land purchase set for November

October 16, 2015
By Marcy Shortuse

By Marcy Shortusesouth end of island FPL
A community hearing date has been set to discuss a matter very vital to the Boca Grande community: The purchase of the FPL land at the southern tip of the island, possibly for $20 million.
In an inquiry to FPL’s representatives on Thursday it was determined that the land is under contract, but not sold yet. The potential buyer is researching the deal during the due diligence period, including the possibility of putting 20 new housing units on the land. 
A representative for the potential buyer is Chuck Basinait of the
of Fort Myers. The potential buyer is not known yet. Basanait is in the process of scheduling a public information meeting for sometime around the second week of November regarding potential plans for the property, to be held at the Boca Grande Community Center.
“This meeting is just for us to get up there and let people know what the project is all about,” Basanait said.
The exact date and time for the meeting will be announced in the next few days. Discussions pertaining to the land being purchased by the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association began, not for the first time, in March of 2014.
The power company honored their handshake agreement with the GICIA that was made years ago, when FPL said if and when the land would be put up for sale they would give the GICIA right of first refusal. In 2001 the GICIA ordered an independent appraisal of the property, which indicated a fair market value of $20 million.
GICIA Chairman Bayne Stevenson said earlier this year that the agreement provided for a period of time when the property would be offered exclusively to the GICIA. That time came and went, and no successful negotiations were struck between the GICIA and FPL. FPL also had discussions with Gasparilla Island State Park regarding purchase of the property, but response from Tallahassee was lukewarm and, at the same time, a $1 million amount earmarked for Gasparilla Island State Park was stricken from the Florida budget.
The proposed million-dollar item’s language contained little information about how the money would have been used, but did say it was marked for “the assessment and evaluation” of lands for purchase inside the optimum park boundary. Currently the land is zoned strictly for port use. Morris-Depew Associates conducted an independent review in 2001, which determined that the land could possibly be habitable by nine to 14 residential units.
The FPL parcel, according to the Environmental Protectio Agency, is considered to be a “brownfield” because of the oil silos that once stood there, and may require restoration prior to use. Heath Seckel of Gulf Coast International Properties, the broker of the potential deal, said he and his client will be forthcoming with more information in the next week.