(By Ed Ryan) Several years from now you may not recognize downtown Fort Myers Beach. Times Square will be getting an impressive facelift, the Margaritaville Hotel will transform a blighted area into beauty, and reconstructed traffic patterns will move people along, at the foot of the bridge, much faster than they move today.
Town Manager Roger Hernstadt says it’s full speed ahead on revitalizing the Times Square area, known for its restaurants, street performers, quaint local shops and easy access to the beach.
Times Square business owners and the town are meeting next week to exchange a few final ideas about the project, including minimizing construction during peak business months. Of the three major construction projects, for which the town has borrowed $10 million, the Times Square project is the furthest along.
With the lawsuits in the rear-view mirror and TPI focused on securing its funding, the 254-room hotel and pedestrian walkover will transform the blight left behind by a hurricane that walloped the beach over a decade ago.
Construction is expected to being in early 2021 and take 25 months covering two beach seasons.
The 254 room resort will include 224 rooms on the bay side of Estero Boulevard and 30 on the beach side, a beach club on the water, four restaurants, a ballroom, spa, ground floor parking and related amenities, including a publicly accessible pedestrian walkover near Estero Blvd & Crescent Street and a 43,000 square foot elevated terrace overlooking Crescent Beach Park and Times Square. There will be three public pedestrian beach accesses and public restrooms.
TPI will also be building a public beach parking lot and donating it to the town. And TPI had also previously donated land to the town for the base of bridge interchange redesign.
The Foot of The Bridge
Last week we heard from Lee County on the reconstruction at the foot of Matanzas Pass bridge. Lee County D.O.T. Director Randy Cerchie says three options were being considered and the design pictured here to the right has been chosen.
The goal is to synchronize the traffic flow on and off the beach with the two new traffic lights being installed, one on Old San Carlos and one on Crescent and Estero.
A public hearing on this project will be held in February or March of 2021 with construction expected to begin in 2022.
The one downside to all of this upside…construction may be taking place all at the same time. But as we all found out during the Estero Boulevard road construction, yes that’s taken a long time because of the complexity of all the projects, but once completed, it is well worth the wait.