I’m an old investigative reporter who’s covered a lot of development in my time so I’d like to take a stab at explaining the recent hoopla over the proposed Grand Resort development.
First, the developer has invested more than $40 million in his properties on the island. Don’t expect him to sit on it for long. He has a right to develop it and he will.
What happened recently is textbook for a developer. He presented grand plans more congruent with Las Vegas than Fort Myers Beach. That’s what developers do. They first propose the most grandiose projects imaginable. Then when the local government rejects them, they tone it down to comply with community standards, while still asking for a slew of zoning code variances. Relieved the massive project is no longer on the table, the local government readily approves most of the developer’s requests. I’ve seen this happen over and over again.
This developer might have gotten what he wanted except for poor political timing. He did not consider the upcoming town council election when he first presented his project. Had he waited until now, with at least two members of council supporting him and one member or the Lee County board of supervisors ready to help him obtain the county park, he might have succeeded.
You can bet he won’t make that mistake again. The developer will be much more politically savvy and will create a project that will be more in tune with its surroundings. He will still ask for more than he is legally entitled, but nowhere near what he proposed the first time.
The community was splintered over the Grand Resorts proposal. The developer lost. But he will be back. You can bank on it. And so will he.
Alexandria, VA & Fort Myers Beach