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The City Gate Commerce Park: Expectations vs. Reality

The City Gate Commerce Park was approved in 1988 for a total of 90,000 square feet of commercial, 836,000 square feet of office, 1,920,000 square feet of industrial, 250 hotel/motel rooms, and 80,000 square feet of public, utilitarian, recreational, and educational space. Planned Unit Developments (PUD) like this often take years to plan and build out as developers are looking for key economic indicators such as: population numbers, growth in the surrounding area, expansion of public infrastructure (like roads, water, and power). It is a long-term investment, where developers are willing to pay for rezoning, taxes, and even install a portion of the infrastructure to prepare the land for future businesses.

By 2018, the City Gate Commerce Park had attracted 212 hotel rooms, 3,643 square feet of retail (gas station and car wash), 18,083 square feet of office for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Big Cypress Field Office and a permitted self-storage facility.

In the same year (2018), changes to the initial project plan were proposed. Collier County introduced a new plan to purchase 61-acres and build a sports complex within the City Gate Commerce Park which would utilize roadways that are a part of City Gate. The project was planned to consist of eight general purpose sports fields, a 3,000-seat stadium and a 125,000-sf field house that could also be used as a hurricane shelter.

Almost 5 years later, the Paradise Coast Sports Complex has completed Phase 1, which has  5-synthetic turf rectangle fields, a 3,500-seat stadium, jumbotron, snack bar, and goods store. With progress moving slower than anticipated, construction costs have continued to increase. Phase 2 of the project includes five fields, lakes, road, infrastructure, and the northwest parking lot package. This was initially promised to be completed by the end of 2022 but a request for an extension was recently submitted by the construction manager.

On April 11, 2023, the Board of County Commissioners Meeting approved the Change Order No. 16 to Paradise Coast Sports Complex Phase 2.1 and 2.2A. This allowed a 45-day contract time extension to complete the mentioned phases to accommodate unforeseen delays. The construction manager, Manhattan Construction (Florida), Inc., submitted a request stating that they are unable to move forward due to unfinished work by Florida Power & Light (FPL) that is out of their control.

The following work remains to be completed by FPL:

  1. Lighting: FPL is on-site and proceeding with lights for the South Stadium parking lots, Cove parking lot, north parking lot, City Gate Boulevard South, pedestrian lighting internal to park, and City Gate Boulevard North.
  2. Primary feed: The electrical design for irrigation pumps and lights for City Gate Boulevard North are underway.

With this new change order, park construction costs continue to increase. In our previous article about the Future Debt Service Requirement for Paradise Coast Sports Complex, it was mentioned that ‘The board approved a $32,998,449 contract for Phases 2.1 and 2.2A at the Stadium Complex. Funding for this contract included a $9.9M loan from the Beach Renourishment Fund and a $7.3M loan from the Beach Park Facilities Fund.’

In addition to the hard construction costs of building the Paradise Coast Sports Complex, county ownership removes the land from property tax rolls. A $15 Million tax incentive was also provided to help the Great Wolf Lodge build 250-room hotel with an indoor waterpark next to the sports complex. The PUD was originally meant to be a light industrial business park for businesses like Uline, which declined tax incentives to relocate to the area.

It is difficult to see a point in which this project will provide a positive return on the investment, unless it is sold to a profit making entity.