Hertz CEO and Gov. Rick Scott talk to the media Tuesday, May 14, 2013 after announcing the company's move to Estero. / Andrew West/news-press.com
The proposed Hertz headquarters will be in the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Williams Road, just north of the Rapallo gated community. / Andrew West/news-press.com
In-depth coverage: Special page on Hertz's impact and what it means for SW Fla.
Nobody in Southwest Florida will experience a more direct impact with rental car giant Hertz relocating its world headquarters here than residents of Rapallo at Coconut Point.
The 540-home gated community sits next to 35 acres of land Hertz intends to buy at the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Williams Road in Estero.
Rapallo’s six-member association board unanimously supports Hertz moving in, but that doesn’t mean the community’s 1,200 residents don’t have concerns. Tonight, Oakbrook Properties senior vice president for Florida operations Ned Dewhirst will answer questions from Rapallo residents about Hertz’s planned $50.5 million headquarters. The Bonita Springs-based Oakbrook Properties manages the vacant tract for owner CP Land Investment of Bonita Springs.
Residents are concerned about the 50-car sales and leasing lot Hertz plans to build , the increased traffic the headquarters will bring and water run-off after Hertz develops the property, Rapallo club president Frank Moser said.
“Naturally, we’d prefer there not to be a used Hertz car lot there, but there are upsides,” Moser said. “We were quite surprised when that was discussed. The car lot size is restricted to 50 spaces and it’s likely going to be along U.S. 41 and not closer to Rapallo. And this is Hertz’s world headquarters. They’re not going to want it to be an eyesore. They’re going to want something tasteful.”
Hertz, which hasn’t released design plans, will have to adhere to Coconut Point mall’s high standards because the land is part of a 482-acre development of regional impact. An 80-page design standard manual, emphasizing Mediterranean architecture, applies for all of the 482 acres.
Hertz estimates that 700 people will be working in Estero when it opens in 2015. Rapallo residents want to know how the headquarters will impact traffic on Via Coconut Point, a four-lane road, and Via Villagio Parkway, a two-lane road between the community and the proposed Hertz land.
“I do try to point out to our residents that this is a professional company,” Moser said. “It’s not like they blow the whistle at 4:30 p.m. and everybody evacuates.”
In the zoning amendment Hertz and CP Land Investment filed with the Lee County Department of Community Development on Friday, Hertz said its headquarters won’t burden the existing transportation facilities.
“The DRI has access to Williams Road, U.S. 41, Coconut Road, and Via Coconut, all with sufficient capacity to serve the Coconut point project as amended,” the application said.
The Lee County hearing examiner is expected to hear the zoning application in late June. The application could go before county commissioners in August. Hertz is asking for an increase in general office space from 315,000 to 678,000 square feet.
In 2006, Lee commissioners approved zoning for the property to become an Art District. The plan to build a 506-seat performing arts theater at the site, however, never happened.
Dewhirst said Hertz is discussing creating a three-story building. Jack Lienesch, chairman of the Estero Community Planning Panel, said some Rapallo residents could be concerned about seeing Hertz’s building from their homes.
“The art district was zoned and approved for that property and it was supposed to have a 40-foot high theater,” Lienesch said. “I don’t see a big issue here.”
Moser said he’s in favor of Hertz moving in because of what it will do to property values.
“We assumed residential or retail would go there,” Moser said. “This is better than either.”