When it comes to residential and commercial construction in Lee County, it’s hard to imagine a more substantial growth pattern than that being undertaken along the Corkscrew Road development in southern Lee County.
Long-time Southwest Floridians remember when Corkscrew Road was an east-west corridor with little or no development back in the 1980’s, with few rooftops along the eastern sector east of Interstate 75. That changed quickly, and as the result of explosive growth and a land zoning change passed by the Lee County Commission in 2015, Corkscrew Road is now a hotbed of development activity.
There were over 80,000 acres of land that for 25 years was zoned to only allow 1 home per 10 acres of land. But in 2015, the Commission voted to increase that density to allow 1 house per acre, sparking a building boom unlike any ever experienced in Lee County. The caveat was that potential developers along Corkscrew Road retain a minimum of 55% of their land for conservation and dedicate 60% as open areas.
To give you an idea as to how rapidly the growth took off, the roughly 80,000-acres of land had seen only about 500 new homes go up in the 25-year period prior to 2015. Since 2015, there have been about 6,000 new homes either built or in the planning stages.
Rooftops Mean Commercial Boom
Residential developments along Corkscrew Road began back in the 1980’s, with the Wildcat Run golf country club paving the way in 1985. There was a lot of skepticism as to the success of this upscale community because it was thought to be too far east to attract any interest. But the developers proved to be very far-sighted in their vision for the property, and it is now one of the nearest developments to I-75, about 3 miles to the west.
Commercial development follows rooftops, so smart investors, developers and builders who had been monitoring the Corkscrew corridor saw opportunity and the area of Corkscrew at the intersection of I-75 Exit 19 began to bloom. The golf course community of Stoneybrook on the southeast corner was opened in 1997, and the popular Miromar Outlets, home to major retailers like Banana Republic, Coach, Nike and dozens more, opened in 1998.
A new project by Stock Commercial, the commercial entity of the esteemed Stock Development Company, is Estero Crossing, located between I-75 and Three Oaks Parkway. This will be a mixed-use development with 60,000 square feet of retail space along with 306 residential condominiums
Today, the Corkscrew Road corridor is one of the hottest areas in all of Southwest Florida, with many new residential and commercial projects either recently opened or in the planning or construction phase.
Preparation the Key to Smart Growth
County planners soon realized the importance of making improvements to Corkscrew Road, originally a 2-lane road going east and west. In April 2021, a massive widening project began on a stretch of about 4.5 miles which is expected to be completed by the middle of 2023.
Beginning at Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, Corkscrew Road will be 6 lanes until it intersects with Alico Road, where it will be 4 lanes. The project is estimated to cost around $52 million dollars. By 2024, the widening and road improvement project is slated to reach east to the Bella Terra development and should reach Alico Road by 2025.
Engineers, developers, and county officials have all been working together to ensure that people relocating to this fast-growing area have safe and convenient access to their neighborhoods with stop lights being installed at entrances to the new communities. Other considerations include the preservation of the natural underground aquifers and native wildlife habitats.
In recent years, several new residential developments have sprouted from the former farm and ranch lands with the influx of people moving to the area.
you head east on Corkscrew Road you’ll find Bella Terra, The Preserve at Corkscrew, (421 homes), Corkscrew Estates, Wild Blue, The Place at Corkscrew, (1,325 homes), Corkscrew Shores, (647 homes), and Verdana Village, with several more on the drawing board. Some of the projected developments include Corkscrew Crossing, a 554-home community located between Wildcat Run and The Preserve at Corkscrew.
Land clearing and construction began in early 2022. The Colonnade will be located on 21 acres where Corkscrew Road intersects with Sandy Lane and this multifamily community will be first Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Estero. Across the street will be Genova, a community of single-family homes and townhome residences that recently changed their plans from 74 condominiums to a lesser density of 14 single-family homes and 40 luxury townhomes.
The Camerrata Companies is a major player in developing land along Corkscrew Road, with Verdana Village being one of their most ambitious undertakings.
Already under construction and sales, this ambitious project consists of 2,138 acres which will become home to 2,400 residences. The Camerrata firm is determined to restore the natural way water flows through and around the land after previous farming and citrus groves had disrupted the process, allowing the replenishment of native vegetation and wildlife, and with no natural wetland areas being altered or developed.
Verdana Village will also include The Shoppes at Verdana Village, a 78,000 square foot commercial retail center that will be anchored by Publix and Publix Liquors, with several more businesses having already signing leases. This commercial center will also include professional and medical offices as well as restaurant space.
Other business entities planning projects along the Corkscrew Road corridor beginning near the intersection of I-75 and heading east include Pavich Realty, Autozone, and Oak and Stone Restaurant, which will be on a 5-acre out parcel at Stock Development’s Estero Crossing project.
Road to the Future for Corkscrew Road Development
All eyes are on county officials and the work they will need to do to ensure that the development of land along Corkscrew Road is a true benefit to the residents and businesses that are moving there.
Twenty years ago, few people had the vision to anticipate that this east-west thoroughfare would play such a critical part in Lee County’s residential, commercial and transportation infrastructure. As the large influx of people moving to Southwest Florida continues to rise, the road that once was dotted with farmlands, ranches and flower fields will play a pivotal role in shaping the area’s success.