Guest Commentary: Grand Resorts – FMB Updates

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We at Grand Resorts – FMB are taking public input seriously and working hard to make updates to our concept plan preparing for another presentation to the public of these updates and to obtain more public input sometime in January. We can announce the date as soon as we can determine when all of our supporting work will be finished but we are shooting for sooner rather than later. Some insights as to items of significance we are focused upon currently:

 

  1. The addition of the Ocean Jewell/John Richard property to Grand Resorts allows us to further improve traffic flow and our consultants are focused upon maximizing that opportunity.

 

  1. The addition of the Top O’ Mast parking lot to Grand Resorts allows for us to propose a public plaza/park on the beach of pretty significant scale that would merge with the pedestrian mall at it widest point. Our engineers and architects are getting creative with that newly added space and it allows for another water/beach view from the round-about.

 

  1. The preliminary feedback from the 3rd party parking study consultants is going the direction of supporting taking one entire level off the garage which has some nice esthetic appeal to downsizing the scale of it.  And we are making architectural enhancements to the garage as well.

 

  1. We are incorporating additional tenant lease space on grade level of the garage on the bay side of it along Crescent Street. The uses there would not support retail shops but uses like medical, law enforcement sub-station, etc. These type of uses provide services to the residents of the island and further soften the image of the garage reducing its scale.

 

  1. We have communicated that the hotel rooms are the financial locomotive that allows this project to be self-sufficient, funding wise. That also goes for the public improvements while providing additional funds towards general funds of the jurisdictions. Although negotiations to this effect have not taken place, the third party research we have commissioned supports this. So with that being said, we are carefully evaluating the “possibility” of taking one story off of the Hilton, a very painful consideration for us. However, either way, our architects are highly focused upon softening the architecture of the buildings moving the Marriott building from its current more contemporary state to an old Florida look, that building lends itself well to that look. We are very pleased with the current Key West look of the Holiday Inn other than further refinement and enhancements. For the Hilton building we are looking at starting all over with a new look for it that breaks up the modular wall look that it currently has.

 

  1. We are also looking to add more interest at eye level in the pedestrian mall both out in the mall and along storefronts.

 

  1. The Boardwalk with Integrated Seawall “System” is gaining better understanding from the public but more education on our part needs to take place. There is a reason why the system we are proposing 1. does not accelerate existing beach erosion conditions, 2. does enhance turtle habitat nesting and 3. can fund an on-going beach re-nourishment program. We just need to get more informational word out on this. Our informational website www.GrandResortsFMB.com has two sections that go into detail about our proposed “system” and why it is so different than just a seawall. The Boardwalk with Integrated Seawall “System” we feel is the last resort to allow for a revitalization of the FMB Downtown Commercial Core Area with a pedestrian grade level interface and we feel the Town’s Comp Plan does accommodate for its use under this condition. All of the private property owners have signed off on an Application for DEP’s Intent To Issue A Permit, we are awaiting the Town and County, the remaining property owners, endorsements to allow for us to obtain this response from the DEP. It is a non-committal to proceed response we are looking for, the final permitting to allow construction of it would be in the hands of the Town, at their future discretion and scrutiny. We only want to take the step, at this time, to receive factual evidence that the system we are proposing works. We are not asking anyone, private or public, to commit to constructing the system, just to take action solely for the purpose of confirming factually that it works. The Grand Resorts Team does know that it works, as it was all modeled this past summer, however, we obviously cannot officially speak on behalf of the DEP, and therein is why we need to take this step.

 

So please stay tuned for our next public informational meeting to take place sometime in January. We will look forward to presenting these concept plan changes and obtaining input and scrutiny of our advancements! The Chapel By The Sea has been kind enough to offer the Community the Sanctuary for our next meeting which would accommodate 500 people comfortably in a sit down environment with a solid audio system, a very kind offer.

 

We know that we have a lot of work to do to make this proposed concept the best it can possibly be and we are committed to that process! Our informational website www.GrandResortsFMB.com now allows you an option to register to receive notices that we have posted new information. Please revisit the site and I encourage you to sign up for this convenient option.

 

Thank you.

 

Tom Torgerson

Grand Resorts FMB

Fort Myers Beach