Estero residents say no to McDonald’s plan for fast food at Club de Rapallo

Residents of a gated community off the South Tamiami Trail in Estero want McDonald’s to sell their McRibs – and everything on the menu – somewhere other than along a strip of US 41 outside their gates. community.

The Rapallo club organized itself in opposition to a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant on the corner of Via Rapallo Way and South Trail as part of the 9.6-acre market at Coconut Point.

More than 100 Rapallo residents met with a promoter representative this month to argue that a fast food restaurant is inappropriate on their doorstep.

It would be the last construction on commercial plots as part of Coconut Point’s 482 acres.

Marketplace at Coconut Point is a parcel on the east side of US 41 North, from Sweetwater Ranch Boulevard to Via Rapallo Drive.

It sits across from the Rapallo Club, where residents worry about the impact fast food restaurants have on their community, which describes itself as a “lush Mediterranean-style community” in which residents “enjoy a genuine resort life “.

A spot check of recent home sales reveals that most homes sold this year closed between $ 350,000 and over $ 500,000.

In other news:

More than 100 residents of the Rapallo Club at Coconut Point in Estero came to urge a developer to abandon his fast food plans at US 41 and Via Rapallo Drive.  It would be part of Marketplace at Coconut Point, one of the last pieces of the massive Coconut Point development to build.

The site is owned by Oakbrook Properties, who created the huge Coconut Point as a planned mixed-use community that represented a turning point in the development of South Lee County. Oakbrook has long envisioned making the 9.6-acre parcel near Rapallo a commercial area.

The creation of two fast-food residents on the plot between Via Rapallo Drive and Sweetwater Ranch Boulevard has been part of the plan since the early days of Coconut Point.

“The reason they were placed on this land was that it made the most sense, from a location point of view, for this type of use,” said Jeff Williams, a representative of developer Kenova South, who met neighbors. “From the start this particular area was designated and to some extent intended to have fast food restaurants.”

One of the two fast-food restaurants in the market square was to be a stand-alone building; the other could be a cafe style place in the Starbucks model that would be built as an end cap to a retail or commercial building.

McDonald’s would be accessible from Via Villagio at the back of the market.

Resident David Yellen spoke to Estero’s Planning, Zoning and Design Board about plans for two fast food outlets.

“We don’t want a McDonald’s. We can probably live with a Starbucks but not a McDonald’s,” Yellen said at the board meeting in August. “That would reduce the value of Rapallo… Would you like to live right across from a fast food restaurant? “

Quality of life issues dominate residents’ opposition to setting up a fast-food restaurant near their homes.

Some said they were concerned that the addition of fast food to the shopping area would mean the smell of fries and Quarter Pounders permeating the neighborhood which is a gentle breeze from the east away from the proposed fast food site.

Coleen Wojcik, Dee Carvie and Lisa Lewis, residents of Via Rapallo, are not mistaken about the possibility of opening a fast food restaurant along US 41 in front of their community.  More than 100 people attended a meeting to define a strategy to prevent the opening of a McDonald's in a parcel of Via Rapallo Drive and US 41.

Others fear the more direct dangers of rodents settling in dumpsters, overloading traffic entering the neighborhood, and the hustle and bustle of revelers satisfying the urge to snack late into the night.

“Do you see the rats, do you smell the food, do you see the trash?” A woman asked the promoter’s representative in a crowded meeting room in the Via Rapallo complex.

The developer of the strip that runs along US 41 is Konova South, a Deerfield Beach-based unit of Konover Co., a 64-year-old Connecticut real estate development company. Konova expects the land deal for the site to be concluded soon.

Design for the development of one of the last sections of the 485 acre Coconut Point project in Estero.  Residents of neighboring communities are concerned about plans for a McDonald's restaurant on the land shown lower left, part of the more than 9 acre development between US 41, Sweetwater Ranch Boulevard to the south, Via Rapallo Drive to the north and Via Villagio Parkway to the east.

Club at Rapallo has 540 units in five owner associations in Coconut Point, a former cattle ranch that has become South Lee County’s largest mixed-use development.

It now includes more than 1,500 residential units and 2.4 million square feet of retail space, hotels, restaurants and a Lee Health Center.

At one point, the plot near the Club in Rapallo was to be the site of a Lucky’s Market, a Colorado chain that gained cachet in Florida through the operation of 21 high-end organic food stores.

But the chain’s expansion fueled by a major investment from The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati came to a screeching halt when Kroger bailed out. Florida Lucky’s were closed and Konova South went in search of new tenants.

Aerial photo provided by the developer of a 9.6 acre site in the Coconut Point development.  Residents of the Rapallo club, located in the center of the photo, say plans for a McDonald's at the corner of US 41, Via Rapallo Drive and Via Lungomare Circle would cause problems if allowed to operate late in the night.

In addition to the McDonald’s site and a cafe, the property is expected to include a ‘sit-down’ restaurant and commercial buildings for which no specific retailer has been signed up.

Although the matter should be referred to the Estero Planning Council, Konova considers it legally entitled to include McDonald’s on the site since Coconut Point has been approved by the county, with input from Bonita Springs, at the time the nearest incorporated city.

“We are not asking for any waivers, we are not asking for any relief, we are not asking for any additional use that is not intended and within the (legal) rights of the company,” Williams said.

Residents are unwilling to accept what the zoning and land use codes would allow on the site and want the Village of Estero to take a closer look at the impact on their community.

“Even though it is allowed by code, it doesn’t mean it has to be,” said Rick Burrock, Treasurer of the Rapallo Masters Association.


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Margie D. Carlisle