Okay… everybody panic!

Or maybe not. At least not yet.

Yesterday, the Jacksonville office of the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they had received a permit application to fill in 1.55 acres worth of wetlands contained within the eastern portion of the proposed Boardwalk at Gateway site.

The site itself is located at the northeast corner of the Gateway Boulevard and Griffin Drive intersection. (Or more simply, that big empty piece of land on the opposite side of Griffin Drive from the 7/Eleven.)

From the developer’s perspective filling in the wetlands would be beneficial for just about any project that they wanted to build on that property. Something is going to get built there at some point, and in order to do so the property owners are going to want to have as many options as possible. For them that means filling in those wetlands.

The “Public Notice” from the Corps does reveal however that the developer’s plans changed in recent months. Yesterday’s notice included drawings from January 2018 that indicate they wanted to construct as many as 14 smaller multi-family buildings, along with what appears to be 5 commercial buildings.

The permit filing lists the project purpose as “residential & commercial development”.

But as we know, the developer had since changed their plan and announced last month that they wanted to build a complex that consisted of 7 four-story buildings that would contain 310 apartment units. It’s not clear if this permit filing means the developer is now reverting back to their plan from January.

Also stated in the notice was that filling in those wetlands was actually approved back in 1993, but that approval has since expired.

Multiple endangered species would be affected by the destruction of the wetlands, including the crested caracara, Everglades snail kite, Florida scrub jay, Red-cockaded woodpecker, the Florida bonneted bat as well as the eastern indigo snake.

It’s important to note that this permit filing with the Army Corps of Engineers is only about the wetlands. Whether this permit is approved or not will have no bearing on a Lee County permit to build something specific, or on what the county will allow the land to be used for.

Given the design drawings from both January and April 2018, it’s pretty clear that multi-family units is the way the developer wants to go. But whether they’ll be allowed to or not remains to be seen.

Lee County staff told the Gateway Sun last month that they were “evaluating” whether or not that property could be used for mutli-family units.

We will be pressing county staff for an answer to that question and hope to have something to report for you next week.


Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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