Southwest Florida Roundup
Floating Solar Farm
Duke Energy Florida is building its first floating solar array project in Bartow. The almost 1-megawatt solar array will feature more than 1,800 floating solar modules installed on a 1,200-acre cooling pond, which was once a phosphate mining pit. At peak output, the array could power nearly 100 local homes when it begins to operate as early as this month.
Engineers are studying the project to see if there are added benefits to installing solar arrays on water instead of land, such as whether the water provides a cooling effect that can help the energy systems run more efficiently or if the arrays can capture light reflecting off the water to convert to power. Duke Energy Florida owns 10,500 megawatts of energy capacity, supplying electricity to 1.9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across 13,000 square miles in Florida.
- Aysegul Timur, a vice president and vice provost for strategy and program innovation at Florida Gulf Coast University, was selected to become FGCU’s fifth president and will be the first woman to lead the university. (At press time her confirmation was pending a final vote by the Florida Board of Governors.) Timur is originally from Turkey and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Istanbul. She moved to Naples 25 years ago, learned English and earned a doctorate from the University of South Florida. In her most recent role at FGCU, she launched a micro-credentialing and digital badges initiative and led an effort that landed the university a $22.9-million federal grant for workforce development in Southwest Florida. Timur will succeed Michael V. Martin, who is retiring after five decades in higher education.
- The Tampa Museum of Art has added seven exhibition spaces, part of the museum’s ongoing renovation that started in 2021. The work is boosting the museum's exhibition and collection space from 14,800 square feet to more than 43,000 square feet.
- Despite delays caused by last September’s Hurricane Ian, developers announced they still plan to complete construction of the $200-million Margaritaville Resort in Fort Myers Beach by the end of this year. The project will include 254 rooms, a 45,000-sq.-ft. elevated terrace and a pedestrian bridge over Estero Boulevard.
- Charlotte County commissioners gave the goahead for a major development in the county’s Burnt Store Road corridor. If built, the 338-acre development would include 894 homes.
- A proposal to build 336 single-family homes on 168 acres of farmland in Immokalee has been approved by the Collier County Planning Commission. The development still needs final approval from Collier County commissioners.
- Connecticut-based Pitney Bowes, a shipping and mailing company, is opening a 14,000-sq.- ft. office in Tampa, where it will have space for 100 of its finance department employees.
- LowCarbon Hydrogen Corp., a technology firm based in South Korea, announced plans to build a hydrogen fuel plant in Mulberry. The facility will provide up to 150 jobs and will cost more than $100 million.
- After two years of construction, Polk County’s Northeast Government Center has opened in Lake Alfred. The $40-million, 70,000-sq.-ft facility has courtrooms and houses multiple departments including the clerk of courts, state attorney, public defender, tax collector and property appraiser.
- Bradenton city council is considering a $14.1-million offer from a developer to buy Bradenton’s city hall property downtown and build a 130-room hotel, 350 apartments, 80 condominiums and 30,000 square feet of retail space.
- Clearwater-based BayCare Medical Group has opened a primary care office in Palmetto. The clinic is BayCare’s first in Manatee County.
- Metro Inclusive Health, a health care provider serving the LGBTQ+ community, announced plans to open six health clinics in the Tampa Bay region by the end of this year. The non-profit already has clinics in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey.
- US LBM, an Illinois-based building supplies distributor and maker, has opened a 100,600-sq.- ft. flooring materials and roof truss factory in Auburndale.
- LD&D, a Miami-based real estate investment, development and design firm, has purchased a two-acre site near downtown Tampa, where it plans a $200-million development to include a 28-story, 369-unit apartment tower, a 178- room hotel and 32,500 square feet of retail.
- A 5,349-sq.-ft. condominium in the Residences at Sand Pearl Resort on Clearwater Beach has sold for $9.5 million, the highest price so far for a Tampa Bay-area condominium.