Fragile SWFL housing market threatened by government shutdown

Kelli Stegeman

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Fragile SWFL housing market threatened by government shutdown

CREATED Oct. 10, 2013

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Southwest Florida housing held hostage? The latest victim of the government shutdown.

"In the next two weeks at my current pace, I'll be out of business," said president of Honc Marine Contracting, David Mulicka.

He calls the government shutdown 'political and punitive' and says it's putting Cape Coral right in the crosshairs.

"People are actually not spending money and cancelling projects," he says.

It isn't just Mulicka's job on the line but his 56 employees as well.

"We have to produce the work. If I don't have work for my employees to do I'm going to be forced to lay them off just like we did in 2009 during the recession," he said.

Mulicka says for years the Army Corps of Engineers had an agreement with the state of Florida to allow the state to issue permits for simple marine construction, like seawalls. The Corps, now shutdown, cancelled the agreement for the time being on Wednesday.

For a housing marking finally on the up, Mulicka is set to lose $1 million of business in the next two weeks.

Don Koogler, of Koogler Homes, had $4 million of business threatened in just one day and millions more is on the horizon.

"Did you ever expect the government shutdown to impact you?" asked reporter Kelli Stegeman.

"Not as fast as it did," replied Koogler.

He's finding a trickle down effect to his homes that are exclusively built on the water. At one sight in SW Cape Coral, a dock building permit can't be approved.

The problems keep coming.

"Everybody behind us from the guys who dig the footers to the landscaping at the finish of the job, every one of them are affected because they don't follow if the house doesn't get built and the house doesn't get built if we don't sell real estate, people don't buy real estate if they can't enjoy the waterfront that they just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in," said Mulicka.

"Is this something you would say is just the cost of doing business or far beyond that?" Stegeman asked Koogler.

"Far beyond that," he responded. "You're taking lives away."

Koogler says on any given housing project of his, 427 people have a hand in making it happen. He fears thousands of jobs are on the chopping block.

Mulicka is meeting Friday with state lawmakers and urges others to do the same and voice your concerns. 

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