Rent for outdoor dining on FMB Times Square will not increase for now

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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.- Business owners in Times Square are worried they’ll soon be paying more rent. The town is debating charging more to rent the space for outdoor dining in Times Square.

WINK News found out, it’s a debate that has the town divided.

For $4.50 per square foot, restaurants like Pete’s Timeout and La Ola, rent the space they use for outdoor dining, but now, there’s talk of raising the rent.

“I don’t think that would be a smart idea in today’s economy,” said Jerry Petrille.

One restaurant manager told WINK News, if he has to pay more, so will you!

“Personally, I wouldn’t return if I saw the prices jumping that much,” Petrille told WINK News.

Mayor Anita Cereceda tells WINK News, she is in favor of an increase saying the extra money would go a long way.

“The cost to maintain the Times Square, pedestrian plaza for trash hauling and maintenance in general is a very big ticket item for the town,” said Cerceda.

But, the town council is divided.

“I would be opposed to it, I think the $4.50 right now is fair,” said Vice Mayor, Dan Andre.

WINK News found out that since the town started charging for the outdoor space in the 90s, the rent has gone up 52 percent.

“They want a fixed rate, they want to know what they have to pay and they want to tie it into the consumer price index,” Andre told WINK News.

The town’s Vice Mayor says raising rates would be hard on business owners, who may also see a drop in business with the upcoming Estero Boulevard Redevelop Project.

“It may not affect the people coming over the bridge, but people coming from the south might be reluctant to go through that traffic to Times Square,” said Andre.

So for now, the rate stays, but, once season is over, the discussion goes back on the table.

“I think we need to find a fair balance,” Cereceda told WINK News.

Restaurants have to renew their outdoor lease permits on September 30th.

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