In an email to members of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council on Monday, March 6, 2017, Tom Torgerson of TPI Hospitality, Inc, provided illustrations of their latest proposed downtown redevelopment project, this time without the use of the Lee County-owned Seafarer’s property. Dubbed “Alternate Plan w/o County Land Swap” the plans were also made public on the TPI website, www.TPI-FMB.com.
In the latest proposal, the “hotel takes the shape of an “A” with the open end fronting Estero Blvd., heavily landscaped. Most of the hotel bayside structure along Estero is one story and an open landscaped terrace.” The bayside hotel pool and a number of hotel rooms are missing from the latest plan when compared to the plan that included the Seafarer’s parcel. In his email, TPI CEO and Board Chairman Tom Torgerson indicated that the property would have about 20% less square footage than the previous plan including Seafarer’s property.
“All buildings are within the dedicated height envelope,” wrote Torgerson, “three stories above flood or less.”
The beach side plan has changed little with the beach club pool, bar and restaurant remaining. “The only difference is we took the restaurant up another story to add some beachside hotel rooms on top of the restaurant, maintaining the same footprint,“ wrote Torgerson. The latest plan also uses the Ocean Jewel property and the property next to Lighthouse Resort on 5th Avenue.
TPI’s initial plan, Grand Resorts Fort Myers Beach, unveiled in November 2015, was presented at four public meetings in which TPI sought public input. Amid vocal opposition, TPI pulled the original plan after about six months and began meeting with several focus groups to refine a second plan that would not contain the most contentious aspects of the original, such as a parking structure, conference center, boardwalk, rerouting of Estero Blvd or coastal protection system.
The second plan was presented to Town Council for their information and input in early November 2016. When TPI attempted to submit an application for the project, the Town rejected it due to lack of county authorization. When the county implied that the Town must review the application and indicate their position first, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council agreed to ask the county to weigh in on the Seafarer’s parcel as part of the project.
On January 24, 2017, Lee County Board of County Commissioners did weigh in, indicating that they were not done using the Seafarer’s site as a staging area for Estero Blvd construction and that TPI should not plan on including that site, which is surrounded on three sides by the bayside property owned by TPI, in any future redevelopment plan. County Manager Roger Desjarlais also took the opportunity to clarify that the Seafarer’s site did not fit the legal definition of blight.
TPI spokesman John Gucciardo told Town Council on February 6, 2017 that TPI would move forward with a plan that did not use the Seafarer’s property.
That plan was released this week. Additional project renderings will be released on the www.TPI-FMB.com website as they are completed.
Torgerson plans on submitting an application to the Town for this newest proposal on or near March 24th.