Fort Myers property slated for renovation hits roadblock; former tenants frustrated

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Big plans to bring start-up companies to south Fort Myers has hit a road block. A lawsuit reveals a young businessman hasn’t paid rent on a building he plans to renovate.

The plan was to revitalize Atrium Square, but right now, the area looks desolate and deserted. In the design, there was supposed to be a state-of-the-art work space, spa and restaurants at the corner of College Parkway and Winkler Road.

Businessman Matt Hurley first took possession of the property in October. Since then, the building has fallen in disrepair with graffiti marking the walls and boarded up windows with broken glass littering the ground.

Now, former tenants are wondering why they were kicked out before Hurley even had ownership.

Sue McGinnis says she never saw it coming—blindsided by an eviction notice.

“We were told that we all had to be out of the building by Oct. 31 because there was going to be new ownership and closing was that day,” she said.

McGinnis Tutoring Center was one of a handful of businesses told they needed to leave to make way for the innovation hub designed by Hurley.

But as it turned out, closing did not happen when tenants thought it did.

A new lawsuit filed by the property manager—Atrium of Southwest Florida—claims Hurley was only leasing the property at the time and has failed to pay rent since Dec. 31 of last year.

Hurley declined to comment on the lawsuit but says “we have possession of the property and are ready to close as soon as the owner is prepared to do the same.”

But problems remain over the appearance of the property and why tenants were kicked out when the sale was not even finalized.

“It looked like a war zone there. Truly…plants on their sides, trash cans upside down, stuff getting thrown off the balcony…just horrible,” said former tenant Steve Shafer.

“We did have to cancel some business. And then we had to cancel appointments to move. And it was very costly to move. I had to leave furniture behind because I wasn’t sure I could find space enough. It was very expensive. AND we lost business,” McGinnis added.

Hurley says he intends to buy the property as soon as the previous owner stops holding up the sale. But the lawsuit filed by Atrium of SWFL states they want the property back.

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