Fifty-eight new businesses, including a host of new restaurants, have opened in downtown Cape Coral since January, according to Community Redevelopment Agency Economic Development Director Helen Ramey.
Ramey cited the Sushi-Hibachi Buffet that recently opened in the location of the former June's Hallmark and Ciao Wood Fired Pizza that opened in the former Bikini's Joe's as examples of empty commercial space now being utilized.
CRA Chari Don Heisler said he was surprised by the number of new businesses and, two years ago, he wouldn't have believed it.
He said the slate of new businesses speaks to activity happening in area where naysayers thought nothing was going on.
"When people say nothing is happening in the CRA we have 58 new businesses. We've had a good year so far," he said.
In other news, a park eyed for a piece of city owned land along the Malaga Canal is still moving forward and the CRA is now trying to figure out the timing of actually creating the park.
Currently, the land is being used as a staging area for Hypower, the company undergrounding the transmission lines along Southeast 47th Street.
Hypower is contractually obligated to return the land to the state in which they found it. They are leasing the land from the city at $1,300 a month.
Cape Coral City Councilmember Marty McClain, liaison to the CRA board, said that Hypower was looking to seed the land once the work was complete, even though it wasn't within the scope of the contract.
"They don't want to leave a site ugly. That will label them on a really nice job," he said.
CRA staff was looking to install an irrigation system at the cost of $30,000, but board members felt that price could be reduced.
"It seems incredibly high. I'd like to see a further break on that," board member Jim Martin said.
The CRA was hoping to find a corporate or private entity that wanted to have naming rights to the park, and help them offset some of the costs of developing the property.
Owned by the city, maintenance of the park would eventually fall to the city's Parks and Recreation Department, according to CRA attorney Frank Schnidman.