S.J. Collins Enterprises

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.