Proposed resort on Fort Myers Beach to face big test Tuesday

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A big proposed resort in downtown Fort Myers Beach faces its biggest test so far.

Tuesday morning, developers will make their case for rezoning the land where the hotel would potentially be built.

February in Fort Myers Beach is one of the busiest times of the year on the island. But right in the middle of the action, one block sits mostly empty.

Erik Wikane owns a small photography shop down Estero Blvd. He’s one of many business owners in favor of a new development plan proposed by TPI Hospitality.

“I’m looking forward to more people coming in,” Wikane said.

Their plan is to build a 300 unit hotel complete with restaurants and shops. But some worry the shiny new complex would change the character of the island altogether.

“I understand that they want it and need it for commerce. But to lose the old island look and everything. I just think it’s a shame that everything gets torn down and replaced by a great big building,” said tourist Jim Greger.

Avi Dahan runs his business out of one of those older island buildings. Even though the TPI proposal would mean losing business, he’s still in favor of it.

“Development is a part of life. And this is development—that’s what it is. Taking something old, getting rid of it, and making something better,” Dahan said.

But with development comes more people, raising concerns that the already bad traffic situation could become even worse.

“I’m just visiting for a couple of months and the traffic is a terrible issue. But you’ve got all these wonderful things. So it’s a balance. You gotta put up with some things to enjoy the others,” said Kathy Weber.

But still many insist the island still has room to grow.

“The character of the island remains with the people who live here. If we don’t change—because now I live here—the island won’t change,” Wikane said.

The Fort Myers Beach local planning agency will hear TPI’s proposal Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The company wants to rezone 10 acres for development.

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