Fort Myers Whole Foods is good to go

Fort Myers Whole Foods is good to go

When Whole Foods Market announced last November it would be coming to Fort Myers, there was just one question – could its choice site, a 16.5-acre golf driving range, be rezoned?

County commissioners acting as Lee County's zoning board answered yes Wednesday for the market and a complement of retail stores to proceed with development at the northwest intersection of Daniels Parkway and Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway in south Fort Myers.


A Wednesday zoning approval means the 16.5-acre golf driving range at the northwest intersection of Daniels Parkway and Six Mile Cypress will become a Class A merchant outlet led by Whole Foods Market. The question was answered Wednesday with a green light for the market and a complement of Class A retail stores to proceed with development at the northwest intersection of Daniels Parkway and Six Mile Cypress. (Photo: Archive art)

While not free to discuss the other brands that might take up residence in the 140,000-square-foot commercial project, S.J. Collins developer Jeff Garrison promised “a very refined merchant mix. Whole Foods brings a very foodie culture with fast casual and sit-down dining as well as boutique shops.”

Nationally, Whole Foods has drawn brands from Panera and Einstein Brothers Bagels to francesca’s casual women’s wear and Oshkosh for kids.

“This is a huge event for Lee County,” said Land Solutions founder Randy Thibaut, who brokered the land purchase. “I think it will put Fort Myers on the map for other high-end retailers who will be attracted to the fact that it has the demographics to support Whole Foods."

A big part of getting to yes was working with the neighbors at Brookshire Village, a community of about 900 homes.

From the first development meeting when worried residents turned out en masse, Garrison negotiated issues of noise, traffic, buffers, alcohol consumption and other commercial uses – no bail bond businesses, for instance – to get to yes.

“We’re happy, and I hope they’re happy,” said Brookshire resident and HOA board member Vincent Hayes.


Brookshire Village and Whole Foods, together at last: From right to left, Brookshire resident Vincent Hayes; developer Jeff Garrison, S.J. Collins; Steve Collins, principal, S.J. Collins; Matt Widmaier, S.J. Collins. (Photo: Patricia Borns/The News Press)

Garrison said construction will begin at the end of 2016 or early 2017, with a store opening in the second quarter of 2018.

The developer will provide a right turn lane on Daniels Parkway, and a possible right turn lane on Brookshire Lake Boulevard if a traffic study finds it necessary.