One of the largest retailers in the world is planning on moving into the abandoned Summerlin Square property in the future.
Wal-Mart, a noted American retail corporation, could conceivably begin breaking ground at the site of the former Winn-Dixie Supermarket at this time next year. If approved, owners and developers intend to rezone 21.85 acres to commercial planned development to allow a standard shopping center with an intensity of up to 154,749 square feet of floor area and 3,086 square feet of additional outdoor garden center. The proposed maximum building height is 45 feet at the 11331 Summerlin Square Dr. location.
"The master concept plan shows a single building with a Wal-Mart being built there," said Lee County Zoning Division Principal Planner Chip Block. "They plan on taking up the area where the old Winn-Dixie center was as well as another portion of the L-shaped center and the old golf driving range behind it for their total area for rezoning the property."
The abandoned former Winn-Dixie shopping center.
The time range for a planned development project of this size could involve six to 12 months or longer for the zoning process and concurrent applications for site development activity under a local development order and building permits before the existing buildings on the intended four parcels would be razed and a new building and center built, according to Block.
"The zoning case has to be finished first so we know what conditions of approval may be associated to it if approved," he said. "Then, the development order looks at those conditions to make sure they are incorporated as part of the development activity. Finally, the building permit has to take a look at the development order to see what conditions are associated to that. We can review them concurrently, but we have to stop at a certain point before we can issue the building permits to find out what previous action had taken."
The schedule of uses besides the standard shopping center and garden center include a convenience store with gas pumps and a drive-thru facility without clarified intention.
The rest of the building property not assigned is projected to have ancillary usage.
"They also have control over two small out parcels, but all they will be used for is storm water management," Block said.
The project application was submitted for review on March 28, but insufficiencies were found on April 16.
"We are doing a review process now. We have not deemed the case sufficient for hearing," said Block, who cited clarifications are needed for the planned usage. "They are now in the process of re-doing the application and plan to address concerns. They have 60 days to resubmit the application from April 16," he added.
One the insufficiencies marked by County planning staff involved two owners listed on the application: Equity One, Inc. and Gulfside LTD Partnership, both out of Miami Beach.
"We asked them for clarification on the ownership so we know the right people have given their right authorizations for it," said Block.
Other sufficiency comments pertaining to the master concept plan addressed distances between the proposed project's entrances and the adjacent driveways on Summerlin Square Drive (if separation does not meet the required 60 feet, a deviation is required); flood hazard information (if property is within area of special flood hazard, the minimum elevation height required for the first habitable floor needs to be provided); graphic illustrations of proposed development must be submitted in two sizes; exact locations of vehicular ingress and egress from existing easements of right-of-ways into development needs to be shown; buffers; proposed uses for entire site; and unreported environmental issues.
Issues regarding ingress and egress from the parking lot as far as possibly altering the existing traffic light at the main entrance on San Carlos Boulevard due to an expected increase in traffic will not be determined until the case is deemed sufficient. At that point, Block said staff analysis of the traffic might address that.
"If not addressed at that time, it can be considered at the time of the local development order," he said.
The LeeTran transfer station within the parking lot also may be affected. In the insufficiency letter, County staff addressed that concern. The letter stated "if the transfer station is not accommodated in the proposed development, it will no longer be viable on the subject site and will have to relocated."
The closest Wal-Mart store to Fort Myers Beach is currently a supercenter at 14821 Six-Mile Cypress (at the corner of U.S. 41).
Wal-Mart is the biggest private employer in the world with more than two million employees, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 2012, Walmart employed 2.2 million associates worldwide, good for third highest employer overall in the world behind U.S. Department of Defense (3.2 million) and People's Liberation Army (2.3 million)
More than 200 million customers and members visit 10,700 Wal-Mart stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. Its fiscal year 2013 sales reached roughly $466 billion.
Last week, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced that over the last fiscal year they gave more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions, making it the first time Walmart or any U.S. retailer has achieved that level of giving. The growth in global giving was largely due to increased in-kind donations to local food banks and families impacted by disasters.