It’s time to go searching for that lost shaker of salt. The much anticipated Margaritaville resort on Fort Myers Beach is being given the green light.
The town is ready to get the resort completed because it could bring more jobs to the tourism industry already sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic.
We spoke to Mayor Ray Murphy and others on Fort Myers Beach about the new development Wednesday.
Margaritaville is slated to go near the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge. Murphy says the project has been delayed for several years by lawsuits, but that the last hurdle is now cleared, and it’s time to move forward.
Businesses on Fort Myers Beach say they expect Margaritaville to bring more tourism to the area, meaning more people walking through their doors.
“We’re going to see some more traffic coming in through the doors and more, perhaps, more year-round, not just the season,” said Melanie Ryan, an employee of South Seas Trader. “But, with more traffic, comes more congestion.”
A lawsuit claimed the town’s plan for the resort was unconstitutional, and the height and density of the resort would have negative consequences, but an agreement was reached.
“Because of all the lawsuits, of course, you can’t get financing and do all that while there’s pending litigation,” Mayor Murphy said. “So, now, it’s basically put everything back on track, and the company, TPI, can move forward with their plans.”
Even people visiting from other places say they’ve been following the lawsuit and are thrilled the project has the green light.
“I think we can all get together now down here and kind of gather up as one and make the beach better,” said Chris Milburn, visiting from Iowa.
With business struggling and many still out of work, the mayor says the project will give a boost to the local economy.
“It’ll put people back to work. It’ll create hundreds of construction jobs,” Murphy said. “Upon completion, it’ll complete hundreds of jobs for the resort. And, you know, by the time they’re coming up out of the ground and getting ready to finish the project, hopefully we’ll be coming out of this COVID mess.”
We were unable to reach the plaintiff for comment.