Posted by Mark Washburn on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at 4:19:34 PM By Mark Washburn / December 29, 2015 Comment
Developer Torgerson Properties’ CEO Tom Torgerson unveiled a beachfront plan this month for a four-beach resort hotel complex in the center of downtown Fort Myers Beach at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, and will have an additional effect of rerouting Estero Boulevard. The project includes 562 rooms in 4 hotels, a conference center, restaurants, and a 1,500-car parking garage. In addition to a pedestrian mall, “Grand Resorts” will feature a half-mile long beach boardwalk that will also serve as a seawall; multiple beach access points on the boardwalk will be added. Torgerson has become a regular fixture in the Fort Myers Beach community as a vacationer for years, but he recently bought a home here. He holds many parcels of properties on both sides of Estero Boulevard through his company, Grand Resort-Fort Myers Beach LLC. Torgerson’s “Grand Resorts” plan could re-shape the heart of downtown, combined with county-owned properties. His portfolio of properties includes Helmerich Plaza, Salty Crab, Pierview Hotel, a half-acre of beachfront north of Canal Street, and a parking lot at Fifth Street and Estero Boulevard. Torgerson’s resort environment will feature an AC Marriott (targeting hip young consumers) where the Pierview Hotel and Mermaid Bar now stand; a Hilton Resort; a Holiday Inn; and a Hampton Inn. The plan will transform beach and streetscapes. Both the Lee County Commissioner and the Fort Myers Beach mayor have been working with the developer for several months. The current traffic flow and parking congestion along the downtown boulevard will get assistance by the developer. The downtown streetscape will encompass sidewalks, landscape and a bike lane. A new parking garage opposite Crescent Beach is planned, and a makeover of Estero Boulevard is anticipated to ease traffic problems, although eliminating current pedestrian intersections. Some of the divisive issues with residents include county-owned Crescent Beach Family Park on the Gulf, and Seafarer’s Mall across the road, which may change ownership. Another possible divisive issue is a seawall between the proposed hotels and the beach that could reduce the width of beach or it could retain the Old Florida-style pedestrian walks of the Fort Myers Beach, enabling people to enter businesses at street level. In the next step, city officials will ask their staffs to prepare a potential agreement with the developer at the next public meeting.
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