BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. –
Sandwiched between Naples and Fort Myers now lies the fastest-growing city in Florida and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
The U.S. Census Bureau says Bonita Springs is growing faster than any other city in Florida and has the 8th fastest growth rate in the country.
Not to be outdone, Fort Myers was second in the state and 15th fastest-growing in the country.
“It’s really boomed,” said Wayne Cohrs of Bonita Springs.
Cohrs works for Engel’s Bike Shop in the heart of downtown Bonita Springs and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s not the hustle and bustle of Fort Myers and Naples,” said Cohrs.
There’s no mistaking the the charm of Old 41 and Riverside Park. The argument can be made that the city practically started there.
Who knew this small town could hold such a bright future?
Ask anyone in Bonita Springs and you’re likely to hear from Bonnie Whittemore.
“We are bursting at the seems. We want to be a destination and not just a stop,” said Whittemore, president of the Bonita Springs Historical Society.
More homes, means more families and a new multi-million dollar high school is at least one answer to a growing Lee County student body.
“In a short time, we’ve cleaned our streets and beautified the downtown. The addition of the school was just long overdue,” said Whittemore.
In Fort Myers, it’s all about attracting young millennials downtown.
“We have everything that makes up a good city, a great city,” said Rebekah MacFarlane Barney.
As manager of new development Prima Luce, MacFarlane Barney like many others is banking on downtown potential.
“We had always hoped and thought it would grow, and we obviously put our money in the right city,” said MacFarlane Barney.
Real estate agent David Botelhos expects with so many developments ready to break ground in downtown Fort Myers, there shouldn’t be an issue finding housing.
The concern shared by city council members has been providing more affordable housing options to help lure more millennials downtown.
“There are a lot of affordable properties on the market and more properties coming on to market every day,” said Agles.
Meeting the housing demand is one issue, but the Florida Department of Transportation says that’s not the only concern here.
The main thorough way to I-75 along Colonial Boulevard won’t support the growing Lee County population by 2035.
DOT officials announced in May a $47 million plan to re-work I-75.
At Forum, the plan is to build what’s called a “superstreet” — or restricted crossing U-turn — that gives drivers protection to make U-turns with ease. All traffic on Forum must turn right to access Colonial, where anyone trying to head eastbound follows signs to make a U-turn.
At Ortiz, a “continuous flow intersection,” or crossover displaced left-turn, makes left turns far more manageable onto Colonial.
Pulling it all together is a “diverging diamond interchange” with multiple access points onto the interstate.
Construction is expected to break ground in 201