A 70-acre swath of Fort Myers land that had been under contract to become an Amazon warehouse and distribution facility instead sold to another buyer who is planning a 700-unit rental community.
PSPR Forum LLC, which is owned by the Miami-based Wolfson Development, paid $30 million for the acreage fronting State Road 82, east of Interstate 75 and just east of the Lexington Palms apartment complex. PSPR Forum LLC bought the land from C-HACK LLC, a Fort Myers-based group of landowners led by the Huether family.
LSI Companies of Fort Myers brokered the deal and will continue brokering the commercial parcels planned for the front of the parcel, said Justin Thibaut, CEO of LSI. C-HACK LLC still owns about 200 acres just east of the recently sold property.
“What we’re looking at is a prime land acquisition just east of 75 and north of the Forum,” Thibaut said of the deal. “The underlying zoning is suitable for a number of commercial and residential uses.”
Adam Wolfson, CEO of Wolfson Development, said he first noticed the parcel in 2017-2018 on his way from Miami to Bradenton, where his company has two other developments. He would stop at the Starbucks in the Forum, then drive by the parcel on his way back to the interstate.
“I’ve been chasing this piece for two years, trying to convince Justin to give me another shot at it,” Wolfson said. “When Amazon decided they were not going to continue their expansion plans, he called me to give us a shot.
“It is significant. It’s the largest land purchase we’ve made to date. The point for us is we have a secular shift away from home ownership and toward rental. We have a massive undersupply of units. With interest rates continuing to rise, that trend is going to be exacerbated. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for people to own a home.”
The site plan for the complex to be called North Forum Reserve will not be complete for another four to five months, and groundbreaking would be about a year from now, Wolfson said. There will be commercial in the front with quick service restaurants and other retail, an apartment complex and then the rental townhomes, which at about 1,400 to 1,700 square feet in size with three to four bedrooms can compare to a single-family home.
Wolfson Development has seven full-time employees with $800 million worth of assets spread over six different communities. The company prefers to remain small while using contractors to manage construction and the properties upon completion. Renting a regular single-family home usually doesn’t come with amenities or a sense of community, Wolfson said.
“We give people all of those things,” he said. “A sense of community. We give them the space they need. Top of the line appliances. Pool, gym, fitness center, dog parks. You look at what people will pay for that. You put that mix together, tenants tend to have families. They tend to stay there for a longer time.”
Wolfson Development develops rental communities across the country with three in Florida, including Symphony Lakes and Cantabria in Bradenton and Encanto Isla in Buena Ventura Lakes on the east coast of Florida.
Encanto Isla has two sites totaling 25 acres with 214 units.
Cantabria in Bradenton has townhomes and single-family homes. A four-bedroom home there with 1,590 square feet rents at $3,300 per month.
Wolfson also has a 350-unit development in Ormond Beach near Daytona in the works.
“The Bradenton deal is the first large-sale built-for-rent community in the state,” Wolfson said. “Maybe in the southeastern United States. We started that trend in 2017, probably before there was a term built-for rent.
“Me, personally, I am preaching the gospel of built-to-rent. It’s what I’ve been wanting to do. We’re fortunate. We’re lucky we have the ability to do it.”