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Rental car giant Hertz Global Holdings Inc. is targeting Nov. 26 to begin site clearing on its $68 million Estero headquarters.
Hertz spokesman Richard Broome said Wednesday the date isn’t official because the Fortune 300 company is still working on its architectural plans, which it will present to the volunteer Estero community planning panel on Nov. 18. Hertz, which purchased a 34.5-acre parcel at Williams Road and U.S. 41, has to prepare it for construction before buildings start rising in February. The Estero planning panel, which issues zoning recommendations to the county, has approved Hertz’s preliminary design plans to create a three-story main building wrapped around a courtyard, a four-story parking garage and a 50-car rental and sales lot.
“It’s the date we’re targeting,” Broome said. “We’d like to do it (Nov. 26), but we want to make sure all of our ducks are in a row. It’s because of all the things we’ve been talking about, the exterior design, and making sure the site is ready. So we’re not ready to announce.”
Hertz is working on getting its development order from the county. Without the order, site clearing or construction can’t begin. Hertz applied for the order Oct. 11, Lee County spokeswoman Joan LaGuardia said. On Wednesday, Hertz officials met with the county to go over routine questions on the order.
“They’ll come back to us with revisions. It’s all routine,” LaGuardia said. “It normally takes two to three weeks for us to get the revisions back, so it’s moving at a good pace.”
Dan Wisk, Hertz’s vice president of facilities and construction, said last month the company planned to start clearing land in November. Workers would likely begin work on the buildings on the $68 million campus in February, he said. The project is expected to take up to two years.
The headquarters has to be completed by Dec. 31, 2015, for Hertz to take advantage of $84 million in tax credits and economic stimulus grants from the county and state.
Hertz committed about four months ago to bring 700 high-paying jobs to Lee County when it moves its headquarters from Pine Ridge, N.J., to Estero. The rental car company moved an executive team into its temporary location in North Naples on Oct. 7.
“I think it’s a tribute to Hertz moving quickly and pressing forward,” said Jack Lienesch, chairman of the Estero community planning panel. “The sooner they get going, the sooner they will finish and the sooner 700 jobs will come to Estero.”
Hertz’s construction workers will have considerable site clearing and preparation work to do before any buildings are built. Large piles of dirt are sitting on the 34.5-acre parcel. Hertz is also planning on building a small entrance road, Hertz Drive, off U.S. 41.
“Those piles of dirt have been there for years,” Lienesch said. “They’re going to have to grade it to their needs. They’re going to put in retention ponds. They’ve got a whole bunch of utilities, drainage and temporary road structures.”