Collier Enterprises is planning and permitting a self-sustaining community that will be a desirable place to live in Eastern Collier County. Over the next 15 to 20 years the community will grow to include up to 10,000 residences and nearly 2.1 million square feet of commercial space, including offices, manufacturing, healthcare, schools, and civic (including churches, Fire and EMS stations) and cultural facilities.
At the heart of Rural Lands West will be a town center with employment opportunities, shopping, dining, entertainment and recreational opportunities, including more than 40 acres of parks and up to 54 holes of golf.
Open space will dominate the landscape with approximately three acres of preserved land for every acre developed. The open spaces including agriculture, wetlands and wildlife habitat, will be preserved in perpetuity at no cost to the taxpayers.
Rural Lands West is located in eastern Collier County, just east of Golden Gate Estates at Oil Well Road.
As a stand-alone community, Rural Lands West will feature a variety of housing options, offices, shopping, services, healthcare and recreational opportunities – all within the boundaries of the community. The location provides an ideal place for a new kind of sustainable community with easy access to every day conveniences.
The commercial hub within the town will generate a significant number of jobs, which will benefit eastern Collier County and reduce the necessity for residents in eastern Golden Gate Estates to commute to the west coast for employment, shopping, services and entertainment.
RLW will provide a wide variety of housing options. We are currently planning a maximum of 10,000 residential homes in Rural Lands West over a 20 year period.
The permitting process is a key step in a series of planning measures likely to extend over the next two to three years. Collier Enterprises anticipates that site preparation at Rural Lands West will begin in 2019, with the first homes coming on the market in 2020.
The location of Rural Lands West in eastern Collier County puts it at the heart of an area where current and future residents of Golden Gate Estates, Orange Tree and other nearby communities will benefit from access to additional employment opportunities, services, retail shopping, healthcare, and civic, recreational and cultural activities. Additional benefits can be found at www.rurallandswest.com/benefits.
Phase One of Rural Lands West will start with approximately 150,000 square feet of commercial development and expand up to as much as 1.9 million square feet over time on approximately 350 acres. There will be a variety of offices for businesses and professional practices, retail shopping, restaurants, entertainment venues, and space for manufacturing – all of which will provide jobs and create a healthy economic base for the community. This sustainable community will reduce the need for residents to drive long distances for their everyday needs and activities.
We anticipate that the community will offer a broad range of healthcare and other services: physicians’ offices, labs and diagnostic facilities, various kinds of specialist services, dental and eye care, along with fitness facilities and health clubs. Although there is no plan currently in place, Rural Lands West could be an ideal location for a new community hospital that would serve the residents of eastern Collier County.
Along with protecting natural areas, one of the top priorities is working with Collier County to participate in providing transportation solutions. Rural Lands West will generate approximately $65 million in transportation impact fee credits to fund road improvements in Collier County. Our plans call for convenient access to important area thoroughfares. In addition, the availability of businesses, shops, schools, parks, restaurants and services within Rural Lands West will give residents of Golden Gate Estates new reasons to drive east instead of west for jobs, groceries and entertainment.
Rural Lands West does not anticipate the need for a new interchange to I-75. Rural Lands West should reduce the need for many area residents to travel west to Naples for jobs, shopping or other needs.
The economy and housing market in Naples has improved and continues to grow. Over the next 25 years Collier County’s population will continue to increase. Rural Lands West will be a well-planned community that will help the county grow in a sustainable way.
Collier Enterprises has assembled a top-level team of local and Florida based professionals to help plan the Rural Lands West community. Key consultants include the planning and engineering firm of Stantec, one of the lead architects of the Rural Lands Stewardship Program; the Naples engineering firm of Angoli, Barber and Brundage; and the environmental consulting firm of Passarella & Associates.
As we move forward with plans for the residential and commercial areas within Rural Lands West, we expect to work with several quality home builders and a number of other companies providing a range of services to the community.
The former project known as The Town of Big Cypress was originally announced in 2006 and later postponed in 2008 as a result of the severe economic downturn and the lack of demand for new housing.
The name “Rural Lands West” is simply a permitting name reflecting the location of the property along the western boundary of the 200,000 acre Rural Lands Stewardship area in eastern Collier County. The actual name of the community will be selected during the planning and permitting process.
What came out of the past planning workshops for the former Town of Big Cypress in 2006 and 2007? How has community input affected your planning for the community of Rural Lands West?
The planning workshops for the Town of Big Cypress were informative and helpful. Many of the community preferences have been incorporated into our revised plans for RLW. For example, we embraced the suggestion of concentrating jobs, shopping and services close to where people live, within walking or biking distance. Our plans place residential and commercial activity around a town center located between Oil Well Road and an extended Randall Boulevard.
Care and respect for the environment is an essential theme for Rural Lands West. Demonstrating our commitment to protect these lands, our preservation plan within the structure of the Rural Lands Stewardship Program provides approximately three acres of preservation for every acre we develop, including sensitive wetlands, major flow ways, wildlife habitat and other natural ecosystems. This type of stewardship has been part of Collier Enterprises’ history for more than a century. In fact, about 80 percent of the county’s land today is in public ownership, permanently protected as parks and preserves and much of this land was conveyed to government or nonprofit agencies by the Collier family and its companies.
In planning for Rural Lands West, we have identified land that makes strategic contributions to the protection of both the Camp Keais Strand and Okaloacoochee Slough, two vital regional ecosystems within the Rural Lands Stewardship Program area. Thousands of acres within the Camp Keais Strand will be preserved, including a continuous 10-mile length of the Strand, a key corridor for the endangered Florida panther which will permanently connect the CREW lands to the north with the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to the south. We will also set aside several thousand acres of important wildlife habitat along the Okaloacoochee Slough east of Immokalee. Coupled with lands previously set aside under the Rural Lands Stewardship Program in this location, this will provide a broad area of habitat preservation.
Rural Lands West is located near critical habitat for the endangered Florida panther. What steps are planned to protect panthers?
The community of Rural Lands West will be concentrated immediately adjacent to existing development in eastern Golden Gate Estates, in the area around Oil Well Road and Randall Boulevard, on farm fields that have been cleared for decades. The preservation of the Camp Keais Strand represents the permanent protection of a key corridor for the endangered Florida panther, connecting the CREW lands to the north with the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to the south – all at no cost to the taxpayer. Our planning team will continue to study wildlife and ecosystem issues, working with Florida and national panther experts, as well as experts in conservation biology, water quality and other disciplines.
In addition, the land owner Collier Enterprises has joined four leading conservation organizations: Audubon of Florida, Collier County Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and Florida Wildlife Federation, and six other eastern Collier County land owners in a collaborative effort to protect the Florida Panther by creating the Florida Panther Protection Program and Florida Panther Protection Fund. The fund pays for panther protection measures such as acquiring and restoring habitat and installing panther crossings and fencing. These efforts also benefit dozens of other species. In compliance with the Florida Protection Program, Rural Lands West will generate several million dollars for the Florida Panther Protection fund.
Will there be an adequate water supply for the new community without risking the water supply for current residents of eastern Collier County?
The allocation of water for the community of Rural Lands West will be less than has been historically permitted for agriculture and farming in this location. Additionally, the RLW team is investigating the potential for implementing reuse water supplies for irrigation needs, which may further reduce the development’s demand for fresh water.
No, RLW will not cause flooding in Golden Gate Estates. Water within the Big Cypress Stewardship District is managed onsite and any discharge from the development will flow south and east away from the Estates.
The community of Rural Lands West is being permitted under Collier County’s Rural Lands Stewardship (RLS) program, a zoning measure approved by Collier County in 2002 for approximately 200,000 acres of land in eastern Collier County. The RLS program is an innovative, incentive-based approach to planning and implementing sustainable long-term growth in rural regions. Collier County’s RLS program has received national recognition and served as the basis for Florida’s Rural Lands Stewardship programs in other areas.
The RLS program protects natural resources, supports continued farming and grazing, and promotes sustainable economic growth. The program encourages landowners to preserve large areas of land. It offers incentives to concentrate development away from environmentally sensitive areas and to locate future communities in places more suitable for development. Rural Lands West does exactly that. For every acre developed, RLW will provide approximately three acres of preservation land including sensitive wetlands, major flow ways, wildlife habitat and other natural ecosystems.
The RLS designates specific lands as habitat stewardship areas, flow way stewardship areas and water retention areas. Permanent protection of these areas creates stewardship credits that are required to permit development on land suitable for development.
The Rural Lands Stewardship program enjoys widespread support from diverse constituents, including environmental advocates, farmers, property owners, government agencies and community developers. The program has won major recognition, including a 2003 award from the Council for Sustainable Florida.
Rural Lands West will comply with all Rural Land Stewardship requirements.
Collier Enterprises has been involved in farming and ranching for decades, and agriculture will remain an important part of Collier Enterprises’ organization and life in eastern Collier County. The existing agricultural operation at the Rural Lands West location will transition to alternate lands. Because Collier Enterprises has a sufficient inventory of farm land that is not currently in production, the company can relocate agricultural operations from Rural Lands West while maintaining current production levels.
Drilling activities will be limited to areas outside the 4,000 acres of Rural Lands West development. Oil exploration, which has taken place for many years in Eastern Collier County, may continue but no drilling will occur within the Rural Lands West development footprint.
Rural Lands West will set aside land for civic uses, such as schools, churches, county services, and emergency services.