Construction of the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Cape Coral is almost a month ahead of schedule, sparking increased interest in development of the surrounding area, including plans for an assisted- living facility and hotel.
“We’re almost at 50 percent completion. All the concrete and steel are in place. On every floor, interior walls are going up,” said Richard Martire, the VA’s senior resident engineer for the clinic project.
If construction continues at this pace, the work could be done by November instead of December as originally scheduled, Martire said.
That means the $132 million, four-story, 222,000-square-foot clinic, once all the furniture and medical equipment are moved in, could be open in the first quarter of 2012 instead of later in the year as originally planned, Martire said. The center will serve 202,000 veterans in Southwest Florida, offering several same-day services, including CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and minor surgery.
The earlier-than-scheduled opening is good news for people interested in developing property in the area of Corbett Road and Diplomat Parkway, said Audie Lewis, Cape Coral’s business recruitment specialist.
Within the next couple of weeks, developers will be meeting with city officials to discuss a planned assisted-living facility and hotel on the 20-acre site just south of the clinic, Lewis said.
“This is exactly the kind of project we want in the area,” Lewis said. People could go to the clinic for outpatient day care and the hotel offers a place to stay for people being treated at the clinic.
The assisted-living facility would have more than 200 beds and the hotel would have 80 to 110 rooms, said Fred Drovdlic, the planner of the project by JCM Contracting.
The project, called Patriot Plaza, meets zoning requirements, Drovdlic said. He said the firm has to go through the process of getting a city development order and environmental permits from the South Florida Water Management District, a process that should take about a year before construction begins.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Reserve is interested in building a training center on 15 acres across from the clinic. The city has told the Army Reserve the site is ready for development and the agency should be letting the city know within a few weeks whether that site will be chosen for the project, said Councilman Bill Deile.
Lewis said the city is also trying to attract other projects, including medical offices, restaurants and drugstores, to locate within a half-mile radius of the clinic, but there is nothing definite yet.