Wink News

Look at redevelopment plans for downtown Fort Myers

April 21, 2011

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- We've heard it before, plans to redevelop downtown Fort Myers and bring business in. We're getting a new look at a big plan that could get started this year. The plan has been in the works since 2009 and WINK wanted to know who is going to foot the big bill?

In the works is a new hotel, new restaurants and more waterfront property. The price tag is $150 million but if developers can swing it, the money will come from the private sector.

Redeveloping downtown Fort Myers in four phases. Don Paight with the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency said by next summer, drawings could become reality. Phase one is a water retention basin. It will take care of water treatment and bring in big business.

"Gives us additional waterfront property for restaurants and a hotel, retail shops and possibly some additional residential uses," said Paight.

Phase two through four include hotel and restaurant development, expansion of Harborside Event Center and the marina. With additional waterfront property bringing business, it means jobs and a boost to the economy.

"Just the water basin, we anticipate would bring in 125 to 140 jobs, permament jobs and then on top of that would be the construction jobs," said Paight.

Business owners and locals agree.

"It will continue to attract a younger crowd to south florida. we've been known for an older crowd but it would be nice to get some youth in the area," said Bob Kennedy-Edwards, who visits downtown Ft. Myers.

"It needs redevelopment to get the people count up again because they're actually starting to live here, rent here. the stores are filling up," said Skip Mufalli, owner, Toot's Dollar Store.

The project is expected to cost $150 million. Paight said he hopes most of that comes from private investors.

"We wouldn't do the development unless the private investment companies would come forward to do it," said Paight.

Construction could begin as soon as the end of 2011 and be completed by the summer of 2012.

A city council workshop is set for Monday afternoon where developers will meet with the council to go over final plans in hopes to continue to move forward.