EXCLUSIVE: The Proposed Plan For Beach Baptist Property


The public is invited to attend an open house to view plans to redevelop the 3.5 acres of land at 130 Connecticut street. The plan includes an 8-story condo tower with a parking deck, 36 workforce housing apartments, and a church that seats 500.

The open house is Thursday, May 25th from 3PM to 6PM. Beach Baptist Pastor Shawn Critser says the 36 work-force housing apartments would be managed by the church. They would rent for about $1,500 to $2,000 per month with a goal of recruiting families with kids that live and work on the island. Critser says he’d like to recruit enough families to bolster the Beach School enrollment by 50 to 60 kids.
The open house on the 25th will be the first opportunity the public has to see the plans. Critser and his investor team would have to go through the same process we are now watching the Moss Marina team go through.

The first step is to get a feel for what the community thinks and what adjustments to the plan might need to be made, before going to the town government agencies for any zoning changes. Right now the property is zoned Institutional and there are neighborhoods close by. How those neighbors feel about a project this big will certainly be a topic of conversation on the 25th.

Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Bill Veach has been a huge proponent of workforce housing, however, he also lives close to that area.

Beach Baptist Church, like so many other structures on Fort Myers Beach was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian.

10AM STORY UPDATE: The condo units up front would be a separate entity, not owned by the church. About half of the 3.5 acre property would be turned over to a developer. The developer would then build the new church and workforce housing units and turn both over to the church free and clear, in exchange for that space. The church would then be able to operate its current and future ministries debt free. The church was an uninsured property and there would be no way for them to build back anything without help.



  1. You’re being short sighted, as if you’d like the church to leave, as if you’d like employees of the island to leave or pay high rents, as if you’d prefer large multi-unit rental homes on this property. The concern about traffic is exacerbated if workers have to drive off island. Community investment to increase the school age population engages family involvement. A church on the island serves the community. I’d agree with restricting the height and don’t think it’s a good location for retail.

  2. If you think the term “affordable” housing as legit you’ve got another thing coming! What a generic term that sounds wonderful, but not a lock. I’m sure those rents will increase each year for a multitude of reasons…$$$

  3. I live in the next neighborhood over and would suggest this neighborhood mobilise to fight this ASAP!! This is a terrible plan. Have a collection, hire an attorney or your going to be steamrolled.

  4. Interesting: I’ve never heard of a pastor with “investors.” The construction of low-rent housing (under the disguise of “workforce”) and retail shops will not benefit this residential neighborhood in the slightest. Can’t wait to look out my window and see the 8-story eyesore right next door. Thanks Pastor Profit. I thought pastors were supposed to lay up treasure in heaven but it seems you are cashing in right here on earth.

    • So what? And what business is that of yours?
      Renters have the same rights with their government as owners. They even get to vote, criticize the government and walk the beach. Imagine that.

  5. Before any new developments are considered that increase height and density, traffic improvements MUST be addressed. We now have two massive projects proposed and definitely more to come. Who knows what massive proposal will be coming for the Red Coconut, Wyndham and others. We soon have Margaritaville opening and that will be increasing traffic. No where in any discussion has there been talk about widening the Matanzas Pass Bridge or adding another bridge to by pass San Carlos Blvd. In my opinion, the Town Council should not even consider one project that increases density or traffic unless, and until, the County, and State, agree to widen the bridge plus consider adding another. It was, and is, my hope that the Town Council will opt to keep our small and eclectic Island more of a peaceful, mostly residential Island. We had enough commercialization for a small Island and we can better on what we had without ruining the character of the Island. No one that lives on Fort Myers Beach wants the Island to look like a little Miami! I understand the developers, and deep pocket property owners, wanting to make more money, it’s greedy nature to want to increase wealth, but it’s the residential land owners that comprise most of the land on Ft Myers Beach and we should be the driving force of what happens to our island, not the greedy deep pocket developers and business property land owners, in my opinion!! I hope in the opinion of many others as well!

    • I Hope it comes true Paster Shaw has helped so many people including me and family millionaires want to own the Fmb

    • Tim,
      The state has said no to widening the sky bridge.
      And you can ‘t build a mid-island bridge because the bay is a state preserve, prohibiting pounding pilings into the bay bottom.

  6. Absolutely Not!! The church is located in a residential neighborhood that can not support the density and traffic congestion of condos and worker housing much less retail space. Between 3-6pm the traffic is already backed up to almost Publix. A nightmare created with residents and customers trying to pull out onto Estero from the church. I feel for the church that has provide so much after the hurricane, however, the proposal stems from a conscious decision to operate without insurance. Perhaps, all us uninsured residents should offer our properties to developers to offset our hurricane losses? City Council, please save our neighborhoods or consider rezoning most residential areas for multi-family high density housing. My single use property can potentially accomodate a six story residential and retail development.

  7. 8 stories, NO WAY, They need to follow the rules like everyone else. I am appalled the church would even try this.

  8. Typical of a developer “offering” to build low-cost housing AND a Church in exchange for their 8-story Condo and all on 3.5 acres ?? Really ???

  9. The Church won’t be able to “choose” their tenants, if they go by the federally mandated FHA rules, anymore than any other landlord would be able to ..

  10. No to “workforce housing” and No to buildings over 3 stories. I own an expensive home near the church and was hoping that, post-Ian, FMB would become a nice residential beach community. We should not encourage anything that will increase traffic, attract homeless, and lower the value of our homes.
    In my opinion, city leaders should focus on the desires of the tax paying resident home owners and less the developers and the transient community.

  11. Maybe all the churches on the Island should do this?
    Imagine all the buildings (condos) the Catholic Church could put on their property??

  12. I’m usually perceived as an “open minded” person, but I’m having a tough time with this. Council, please keep residents in mind and stick to our plan. It may not be a perfect plan…but it’s definitely better than this.

  13. 4 story building in picture but 8 stories proposed? Way to big. My main question is why was the church uninsured? Not a bad idea to build mixed use on a smaller scale but do not believe condos will be marketable with workforce housing adjacent. People will not shell out the big bucks to be there. Not really a nice thing to say but true. What will happen to the homeless outreach? Maybe the church can apply for a grant and include workforce housing to help defray cost of rebuilding church.

  14. The vibe of FMB and the former Beach Baptist are totally lost in this proposal of a bunch of box buildings some of which are entirely too tall. Sanibel and Captiva are having consultants and meetings to discuss the aesthetics of design and landscape… this proposal misses any nod to beach aesthetics and design. If this is what will happen on large plots of land, Estero Blvd will be an even worse parking lot than it has been (hard to imagine) and residential areas will be invaded by large box buildings unintegrated in the sense of place.

  15. No matter what you may want to happen with the rebuild of FMB, change is going to happen. FMB will never be the same… change is here to stay.

    • It’s the density and height of the building that is the problem, not the proper zoning for that site. It’s all single family or at most double unit homes in that neighborhood.

  16. This is a huge mistake 8 stories? Please town council do not cave in to the plans ..once again it’s all about the $$$$ it’s my neighborhood ..let’s keep it residential.

  17. I’m an east-coaster that loves to vacation on FMB. These comments are interesting. Accusing the church that has been very generous since Ian and probably before, of greed is funny. The old island is gone, won’t be coming back and that is sad. A mixed use property with housing for locals & housing for vacationer/investors and the church most people seem to love, sounds like a good idea to me. Good luck to all & I can’t wait to get back over there!

  18. Ah ha! If I remember correctly the church was not insured. Said church as a desirable piece of property. Investor comes along and says, if you let me build this, I’ll build you a church too. Oh, and to get over the hump we’ll call some it workforce housing. If you’re a developer, without some kickbacks, you’re not building workforce housing.

  19. NO, do not even think it. The town told our association, no more that three stories high for the rebuild, period! Same for the proposed, keep to the max of three stories!

  20. We lived in that neighborhood for 27 years. Single family residential, with a few duplex rentals. If you were in favor of Margaritaville I don’t know how you can oppose this. Both are inappropriate in terms of density and size relative to their surroundings, as well as being a significant contributor to traffic and congestion.

  21. No to 8 stories! Adding to density will only increase traffic issues. Adding 50-60 school children means 2-3 kids per workforce apartment. I think they might have trouble selling condos next to that. Where will people park for church events if parking is taken up by residents?

  22. NO NO NO! This poor island will be sunk by tall concrete buildings and overpopulated by people in the multi-room condos and hotels. Please leave the integrity and beach vibe of FMB in tact and stop huge hotels, high rises and money grabbing ideas! Shame on Town Council if you start condoning construction like this!

  23. This saddens me in so many ways. We loved going to Beach Baptist when we were there in the winter. This just feels wrong! Please reconsider.

  24. No to eight stories, but yes to affordable units. Church owns the land. Anyone buying land can’t afford to build affordable housing at the cost of todays land. If the church needs 8 stories to make it work, then no.

  25. No way! The Town Council and LPA need to make it clear to would be developers that anything that so blatantly ignores current zoning and building rules will not be considered.

    • You are right on! No hi-rises, where single family homes are predominant.
      Families with kids aren’t going to be in an apartment complex
      Ike this. LPA needs to hold firm on commercial properties or we will look like Marco with high rises and can you imagine the traffic problem expanding to EVEN worse! MHO.

  26. Just what I want in my backyard. I mean literally in my backyard. A big 8 story building to stare at. I wonder what the setback will be? It’s bad enough that you could get a contact high from the neighbors smoking weed and coughing all day. Love the workforce housing to attract kids to church school. Is this a cult?

    • Max, I absolutely understand your concern for what you and your neighbors would have for a view, I can only speak for myself and I would not be happy about that backyard scenery. However, you muddled my empathy with your assumption that individuals who would benefit from affordable housing on FMB would cause you to suffer a “contact high” and “coughing “. That sophomoric broad generalization undermined the very valid concern you, as a resident voiced. Have you been following the struggle of many long time residents and FMB business owners who have children and want to remain on the island fighting to keep our school? Affordable housing(hopefully you are aware that affordable housing is different than section 8 or low income based housing) could bring more full time residents with children to FMB hence helping keep the school sustainable. You had me at your backyard view but lost me with judgment.

  27. I’ve never heard of a church with condos? This is all about money of course. Sure, use working families with school age kids to pull at our heart strings . That will get everyone to buy in to support the school and help give lower income island employees opportunities to live near their employers. Wrong! We all see through it when you begin by breaking the building rules, put money first and the church becomes a side job. Sad

    • oh good lord…my property is close by…we DONT want it…none of us do…
      well said Monica…I rented to someone homeless the church sent me…he destroyed my place in a matter of 2 months…filled it with found junk and I had to evict…8 stories!!! keep the code to 3…my home is 3 houses from this place. I loved the fact it was a quiet safe place to live and enjoy…shame on FMB if you approve this…and those in favor of it obviously dont live here

  28. There are current council members that have passionately stressed the dire need for work force housing on the Island. Even to the point of creating and raising fees to help fund it. Well, here’s a plan to give the Island just what they wanted. It’ll be very interesting to see if they support the proposed development or stand in the way to stop it.

    • There you go again Steve with the curious reasoning.
      Because council members support workforce housing they should be expected to approve the first plan that comes to them regardless of how many violations of the codes that took so much money and time to win community support.
      How silly.

      • It was simply a point and a question, how on earth is that silly? This will be an interesting story to follow, for many different reasons. If you want to bicker or debate with someone please find someone else to banter with. There are dozens of other people here to reply to and dozens of comments quite possibly far more “silly” than mine, please reply to them. I don’t care for you. I don’t think you care for me, so take your replies elsewhere.

        • Your Point is bogus Steve. This is not the plan to give the people “just what they wanted.” Far from it from the responses on this thread.

  29. They are trying to push all the right buttons to make it hard for the public and politicians to say NO……’worker housing’, ‘recruitment of students for the beach school’….. blah blah blah. It’s all about $$$

    • And once it’s up Steve..it’s too late…NO and NO!!!! my property down the street…I dont want it…none of us do

  30. After the rules changed when we became our own town, how many tall condos have been built down at the south end? How many condos and how many stories on each? How high is the newest one? And how have they been allowed? Does anyone know the answer? I am curious.

  31. Like everyene else…please only 4 stories. BBC is awesome but if you give into 8 stories there will be more. This will open the door to others. It would be nice if some of the old church character could be implemented into the new modern look.

  32. I bet they’ll allow for “work force housing” only if the housing market completely collapses. With one bedrooms starting at plus 1m. That’s just so the project has a better chance. I do not believe it. What curmudgeon is gonna want families in their precious condo unit they paid millions for?

  33. I bet they’ll allow for “work force housing” only if the housing market completely collapses. With one bedrooms starting at plus 1m. That’s just so the project has a better chance. I do not believe it. What curmudgeon is gonna want families in their precious condo unit they paid millions for?

  34. The Town Council needs to remember that the residents of this town voted them in, not all the corporations wanting to take us over! The continued disregard of what the residents (who voted you in) want is disgraceful! Stop buckling to the handouts and learn to manage your budgets the correct way!

  35. It’s obvious that even the church is caving to greed. Keep it a church….and that’s it. Workforce housing can be built elsewhere. Last I checked, there’s space available. All the council has to do is just say no. Simple. Let’s hope they’re who they said they’d be

    • Work force housing was supposed to be built over the bridge with the Margaritaville deal. What happened to that?????

    • so true…all about the money…and shame on the Pastor also…for thinking we would love this idea…it’s all about the money…my house is just steps from this place…I cant imagine this quiet neighborhood I purchased to enjoy my retirement is even being considered for this…I asked the pastor to check on my home after Ian…no response from him at all…just steps from his house…no thank you…I see what is coming if this is passed

      • Oh now that explains all your negative comments. You”re bitter because the pastor was too busy helping survivors and actual people in need after the storm to check on your house.
        Shame on him for thinking about the entire community and not just what’s best for your street. I don’t think so. What have you done for your community since Ian? I certainly know what he’s done and where he’s been everyday.
        You don’t have to like the idea but you certainly have no right to slander people.

  36. 3 stories, which is actually 4 stories because it will be raised one whole story. Sounds like a good concept just has to build to the height that Margaritaville build. As long as all condo, buildings, businesses stay with in that, that’s about the only thing that should even be consider. Why does everyone play these games and waste their time and money to build the unthinkable. Come in with the right plan from the start. Progress is starting, but stick with the plan. The town should not sway. Stick to the plan!!!!!

  37. They need regular condos to subsidize the workforce housing. That’s where the money will go. Weigh the benefits. Suggest changes but don’t condemn them before this can even be discussed.

  38. I truly hope the FMB residents oppose this. It absolutely ridiculous. Housing for the workers, yes but everything else, no. Bring back BBC similar to how it was… not like a building in NYC.

    • “Housing for the workers, yes but everything else, no.” Then how do they afford the housing for the workers without the income stream from the other condos?

  39. There will be opportunities for everyone to voice their opposition to this and I hope everyone does at every turn. This will require a zoning change and several variances. Make your voice heard to the LPA and the Town Council. This is in a mid-island, residential neighborhood. 105 Condo units? 8 stories? 141 total units? This monstrosity does not belong where a church once stood. I am all for progress, but this is insane. What does 105 Condos and 15,000 sq/ft of retail space have to do with a church? Absolutely nothing. This is about the $$.

    • I’ve spent the last three days researching this and it’s currently zoned IN institutional with a maximum height of 35 feet. Building condominiums isn’t an option. It’s a open and shut case. Back to the drawing board because this is a no from people that live in this area. The church should be working on getting grant money from the massive Lee county HUD grant. LPA and council just need to follow the rules.

  40. Love this idea. Out of the box thinking for the long term. Maybe scale it down a few stories. I believe Diamond Head is what, 13 stories and that hasn’t been an issue. Traffic is always gonna be a problem. Embrace it.

    • LB – You need to do a little research on the history of FMB. The reason the Town of Fort Myers Beach exists is because The Diamondhead was built in spite the the residents not wanting it that high. Estero Island was ran by the County and they allowed it, so the Town was born to stop these monstrosities on the beach.

  41. I thought earlier the town stated that no more the 3 stories were going to be allowed not 8 stories and thought whatever stood on that parcel of land had to come back that way so how can you build a church and add condo’s along with it. The town needs to be consistent with their vision and hold their ground and not allow this.

  42. So sad. Worse than I imagined. Maybe that’s the plan? Ask for 8 stories so 4 stories will feel like a compromise? It is a residential neighborhood or does that even matter anymore? Neighbors will be there.

  43. This is definitely more about making money than it is being a church. 500 people won’t be able to get to church with all traffic from the increaaed density. And 8 stories in an area that is all homes!!!!!!

    Council has to work fast to solidify a plan now! The developers are banking on moving faster than the town. Can’t wait for this consultant guy….too slow of a process.

  44. No to 8 stories! With all the new construction and changes to the look and feel of our island, please don’t allow these taller buildings.


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