Cape Coral bought 652 acres of property in the north Cape this week, paying approximately $13.1 million as the high bidder in a foreclosure auction Monday.
The parcels range from single lots to several small island parcels in the North Spreader canal near where the old Ceitus boat lift used to be.
The properties were, collectively, valued at about $20 million by the Lee County tax office, meaning the city obtained the land at about 60 percent of assessed valuation.
Price wise, it appears the city got a good deal.
But whether the taxpayers, and utility ratepayers, get bang for their buck depends on what the city does next.
The city plans to spend the next six months to a year evaluating the parcels purchased so as to determine best use.
That's a wise plan as the city certainly has many more options than may be apparent at first blush.
While the city moved with urgency in hope of mitigating costs for the on-again utility expansion project, buying in advance for new facilities sites for things such as pump and lift stations as well as for stormwater retention, the purchase also puts other options at the city's fingertips.
The island sites, for example, may have potential as parkland in a community that has a lack of public waterfront availability, despite its miles of river and canal front sites.
The city also is likely to find the buy gives it the option of site consolidation and the ability to trade. Single units in neighborhoods, could, for example, possibly be swapped for similar parcels near the still-developing festival park land. This would save significant tax dollars on what otherwise would be eminent domain buys.
While we, like a majority of council, would have liked to see more advance preparation before the buy, careful after planning still can make sure the city gets maximum value from its purchase.
We trust our new city manager will prioritize this effort and make it happen under council's watchful eye.
- Breeze editorial