Ambassador Hotel stripped bare as renovation begins

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- The old Ambassador Hotel, once considered a landmark in downtown Fort Myers, is currently being gutted as it prepares for a new start.

It began 30 years ago as a Sheraton and was a showcase for the city. Then, it lost its luster. Workers are now using an elevator dumpster to take out just about everything as the building undergoes the nearly $90 million renovation.

“There is a lot of debris in here, the old furniture, the luggage racks, the hundreds of hair dryers hanging on the walls,” said Pat Robinson, project supervisor. “They’re taking anywhere from 40-50,000 pounds of debris off of a floor every week.”

Workers have found at least one surprise.

“The bathtubs were a big shock because they’re old, cast iron bathtubs, probably a half-inch thick. It takes four people to lift a bathtub,” said Robinson.

In the next couple of weeks, new windows with glass that meets the current hurricane codes will be installed. A member of the family that owns the property loves the color and strength of the windows.

“A nice Pacifica blue, all new, brand new, sound proof,” said Rebekah MacFarlane.

The hotel has more than 700 rooms. Two rooms are being combined to make more than 300 apartments for senior citizens.

Outside, workers are demolishing a ballroom at the back of the property. Eventually, assisted living and memory care units will be placed inside. Crews are also starting to strip off the pinkish-colored paint.

“The pink is going, you’ll see the white appear. So it’ll be a total, new look,” said MacFarlane.

The goal is to reopen the building in early 2017.

“I’m having a great time being a part of bringing this building back to a beautiful state. It’s going to be an absolutely beautiful building when we’re finished with it,” said Robinson.

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