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CAPE CORAL, FL-Garrison Developer Group of Florida LLC is expected to break ground in the summer on the $25 million Diplomat Shoppes at Del Prado mixed use project after having received final approval for the development.

The project, situated on nine acres near the intersection of Del Prado Boulevard North and Diplomat Parkway East, was originally expected to be 89,000 sf. However, Cape Coral city leaders asked the developer to acquire two additional sites adjacent to the property.

With the additional land, the development will total 108,000 sf, with 76,485 sf of retail space, about 32,000 sf of office space and 500 parking spaces. The design of the center incorporates up to 24 end corner units, with spaces ranging from small single offices to nearly 25,000 sf of contiguous space for a single retail tenant. With construction expecting to last about nine months, the first tenants will move into the center in spring 2009.

Rey Ortega, president of Sarasota-based Garrison Developer Group, tells GlobeSt.com that letters of intent have been signed for approximately 20% of the space. Companies that have committed to space include several restaurants, a health club and a cell phone company. He adds that retailers are reluctant to commit to space until a project has received final approval, which Diplomat Shoppes received March 6. “We’re focusing on the retail space initially,” Ortega says. “One tends to follow the other.”

Cape Coral is the second-largest city in Lee County, which has experienced 35% growth over the last seven years, according to Census Bureau figures. Ortega notes that the city is considered underserved by national retailers, despite its proximity to Fort Myers.

“The corner where the center will be located is the only corner commercially zoned in the North Cape Coral area,” he says. “Right now, people who live in the area must drive by our site to get to shopping.”

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