The past five months have been quite the journey for Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers, and in many ways the work is just getting started. I asked him at a recent commercial real estate professional meeting
Comments from TPI Hospitality, which offers a view that seems to differ significantly from the Fort Myers Beach City Council.
“I wasn’t there, but I read the story and talked to (Tom) Torgerson personally about what was said,” Allers said. “I wouldn’t say we’re on opposite ends. I think we’re saying the same thing in different ways.”
Allers described the first TPI plan a few years ago, which did not immediately receive approval from the city.
“If there’s one thing Margaritaville did, they came up with that first grand plan and it ended up like a turd in a punch bowl, excuse my language. And they got an immediate response. But what they learned, and if you ask Mr. Torgresen or Mr. (John) Damerman, they learned It’s about listening to the community before they do something. It’s about finding out what the community has the backbone for.”
Ehlers admits the island will never exist.
“You know, we lost a lot of our cottages. It’s sad, I’m a history guy, so I hate to see that. We know we’re not going to get those back. Our community before the hurricane. It’s probably a very different community than we are now. We all know some people don’t want to wait five to 10 years. You’re choosing to leave. You need to go back to September 27. What it looks like or what the new look is going to be.”
Referring to the role any developer plays in redeveloping the island, Eller said, “Meeting with the everyday people who come there, residents, tourists, I think that brings you to the plan.” If you can get the community behind you, the council will go. Supporting whatever it is, if it’s more density, triple, quadruple density and the city supports it, we support it, that’s what we’re doing.
Eller said TPI played a big part in that redevelopment.
“They’ve got a really nice property that I think we’re all going to enjoy. Who would have thought? They’d be the first to go to Fort Myers Beach again two years ago?”
Karen Moore is a contributing partner for WGCU and publisher of SWFL Business Today.