FMB residents not content with resort plans

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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Neighbors were vocal about their outrage over plans to build a resort on Fort Myers Beach in a Monday public input meeting at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center.

Hundreds of people packed into the center for the final of four meetings for Fort Myers Beach development plans.

The ambitious 10.4 acre Grand Resorts project calls for resorts, restaurants and a large parking garage. Project developers have adjusted original plans, lowering a story in one of the resort buildings and parking garages. But they still plan to move Estero Boulevard and construct a roundabout to address traffic.

Homeowner Dennis Kukuk said if the renderings of the development materialize he and his wife will not even visit that portion of the beach.

“That would be the end of me traveling to this end,” he said. “I would go out to Bonita Springs. It’s going to be too commercialized.”

Kukuk lives on Fort Myers Beach for two months out of the year. But like many other residents, tourists and business owners, he still have concerns about redevelopment plans.

Some residents and business owners said the project is not fit for the city.

“It looks like they’re turning it into Key West. We didn’t want to buy in Key West,” Kukuk said. “We wanted Fort Myers Beach.”

Fort Myers beach was incorporated in 1995 “as a means to engage citizens of the island in the preservation of their small town character,” according to the city’s government website.

The owner of Fort Myers Beach’s Silver Sands Resort, Andrea Carriere, said the Grand Resorts would neglect the city’s founding principles.

“We incorporated 20 years ago for the sole purpose of not having tons of high-rises and tons of development and this is what we did it for,” Carriere said.

The Grand Resorts panel said their development plans are 95 percent complete, but are open to more suggestions.

“We want to work with you!” said Tom Torgerson, CEO of TPI Hospitality. “We’re willing to take the risk and we’re ready to go down the path and start the formal process.”

Now that input meetings are complete, developers will submit their redevelopment application to the town. That application will take residents’ concerns into account, developers said.

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