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Develop Lehigh proposes mixed use to boost development, jobs

December 20, 2017
By ERIC DeVAUX ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

To boost business development, Develop Lehigh wants to push mixed use overlays to developers looking at Lehigh Acres.

A Develop Lee Initiative created by the Horizon Council and the Lee County Economic Development Office, it is a commercial revitalization task force aimed at finding ways to revitalize areas of Lee.

At its meeting on Dec. 13, Develop Lehigh talked about how mixed use overlays can result in new businesses and jobs.

Article Photos

Participants at the Develop Lehigh meeting on Dec. 13 learn about, a website the group wants to use to showcase available real estate in Lehigh Acres.

"Mixed use overlay is all over Lee County," Rachel Busch, with Lee County Economic Development, said. "It is in areas that has infrastructure in place, transit in place, future growth."

It typically contains a complementary mix of residential, retail, commercial, civic, entertainment uses and such in close proximity.

According to Busch, it is an incentive that allows developers to build more on a property.

"Your fees are potentially lower because you don't have as many applications and as many public meetings to go through," she said. "In some cases, you wont have any public meetings."

Mixed use overlays can reduce parking requirements by 40 precent to 60 percent, reduce open space requirements by 50 percent and reduce development time savings by 33 percent to 50 percent.

"This is a huge deal because there's a lot of them in Lehigh," Busch said.

She explained that the idea is to take mixed use overlay areas, determine which have the largest tracks of land and use them for marketing purposes for Lehigh.

"Now you can build so much more on these properties," she said.

Another reason overlays can be good is they promote walking or pedestrian traffic, which helps cut down on the need for parking.

"They want it to be more walkable because there is a lot of things to walk to," Busch said. "It's areas where they want to encourage walkability."

This can bypass many things that developers would normally go through, especially zoning issues.

"Your not only saving time by not having to do all those meetings, your saving money because your saving time," she said.

Also during the meeting, Develop Lehigh announced that it is developing a new website.

It also gave a presentation on, a website that connects government, real estate professionals and economic development professionals to turn ideas and opportunities into real estate projects that improve communities.

Develop Lehigh is interested in using the site to showcase the real estate available in the area.



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