■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
It has been confirmed that two Southwest Florida developers are currently doing due diligence to purchase the 9+ acres of land at the southern tip of Gasparilla Island on Belcher Road, currently owned by FPL. If the deal goes through 20 new homes will eventually be built on the property.
While the two companies are still relatively tight-lipped as to many details, James Nulf of Seagate Development Group confirmed the parcel is currently under contract with BCB Homes, Inc. and Seagate Development Group, LLC.
Seagate Development Group, LLC is headquartered in Fort Myers. BCB Homes, Inc. is based in Naples. Seagate has been part of more than $500 million of sales in luxury custom homes and more than $700 million of commercial development.
“BCB Homes and Seagate Development Group have assembled the top engineering, architecture and landscape architecture companies in Southwest Florida for the purpose of creating a concept plan to complement this unique site,” Nulf said. “The preliminary plan provides for 20 home sites, each with its own unique view. The sizes of the home sites are in keeping with the high-end market found on Boca Grande. The developers intend to offer these home sites for sale both to builders and end users, and they plan to use the local Real Estate professionals in Boca Grande to help promote and market the development.”
Nulf confirmed that a public information meeting would still be held on Monday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. in the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium to discuss the project.
The history of local acquisition attempts began just prior to 2000, when FPL made the announcement they had switched from oil to natural gas and they would no longer need the property which held their fuel tanks.
Lee County Commissioner John Manning pursued purchase through the county’s 2020 Conservation program, but the proposal was rejected because the 2020 committee said the property did not meet the criteria of “environmentally sensitive lands.” At that time the power company’s oil storage facility tanks were still on the property.
In 2001 Morris-Depew Associates conducted an independent review of the land (requested by the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association) that suggested that nine to 14 residential units were a possibility on the property once the tanks were removed. No official reason was given for that number. A fair market value at that time was determined to be $20 million.
The tanks were completely removed in 2003, but the Environmental Protection Agency said the site was a potential “brownfield,” because the fuel tanks had once stood on the land, and potential contamination could require restoration prior to use. In the early part of this century the GICIA entered into a handshake agreement with FPL, which gave them right of first refusal to the land.
Discussions began again between the GICIA and FPL in 2014, when FPL said they were interested in selling the land. In the early part of this year the time came and went when the GICIA could purchase the land, with no deal struck. FPL also entered into discussions with Gasparilla Island State Park Administration regarding purchase of the land, but the response from Tallahassee, where all state parks administration is located, was not favorable.
Gulf Coast International Properties of Boca Grande brokered the deal between FPL and the two development companies.