‘I want the customers back!’: businesses hurting from hotel site construction

Published: Updated:

The construction site is expanding for a new hotel in downtown Fort Myers.

The construction has closed a usually busy block on Bay Street, and businesses are growing concerned of what the impact will be. Signs in the area tell people that the businesses are open, but those who work downtown say they’re already seeing a loss in revenue.

The street could be closed anywhere from 90 days to 120 days depending on potential delays.

And more importantly for nearby businesses, that means the adjacent parking lot that many visitors utilize will also be closed.

“Well it’s obviously restricting what you can see from the road, or at least driving by it. So in general, yeah. You would miss some of the business of the opportunities just to see them,” said tourist Patrick Burns.

The closure is part of the controversial Luminary Hotel project which has been plagued with hurdles from the start.

WINK News reported exclusively on Friday that Fort Myers city leaders knew about deed restrictions on the property in 2014. A lawsuit about the future of the property is pending.

A family donated the land to the city nearly a century ago with the requirement that it was not to be used for business purposes.

One SWFL woman says she’s fed up with city leaders over the uncertainty of the Luminary Hotel’s future.

“They gotta think about the servers that are down here because we make our living on tips and if we don’t have guests coming to the restaurant, how are we supposed to pay our bills? Let alone, how are the restaurant owners supposed to pay for their rents and stuff? So it’s just as hard on them as well,” said server Jaclyn Juull.

But others feel that the project will actually help businesses once it’s complete.

“I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s going to draw more people, more crowds. And there’s going to be a lot here for everybody,” said Dale Conrad.

Even so, downtown employees can’t wait for that day to come.

“I’m sick of construction,” Juull said. “I want the customers back!”

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.