LPA Gives EIBC a Do-Over

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If at first you don’t succeed….Representatives from The Estero Island Beach Club were told to go back to the drawing board by members of the Local Planning Agency this week after proposing an 8-story structure to replace the two they lost in Hurricane Ian.

Despite not asking for more density (75 units), and more than doubling the view corridor to the Gulf of Mexico, the owners of EIBC are having a hard time getting an acceptable structure on the piece of property they own on Estero Boulevard. This week, LPA members voiced their concern about the proposed 106 foot high structure and how close it was positioned to Estero Boulevard. They were also completely unimpressed with the architectural design of the building.

John Shaw, representing EIBC, first came to town staff with a smaller v-shaped building but it blocked a big part of the view corridor, which was a major issue for the town staff reviewing the project. For years, the Town Council and LPA have given staff clear direction that they want to maintain clear views of the Gulf from Estero Boulevard. The design change to 8 stories was done as a result of that feedback, according to Shaw. But that move caused other issues for LPA members.

LPA Chair Anita Cereceda said your taking this high building and putting it right on Estero Boulevard and that’s a bad idea. “I want you to have this but I can’t support what I’m seeing here. LPA member Doug Eckmann said as presented this building is going to be an eyesore. “It’s such a big mass. I’d like to see a little more creativity with the architecture.”

Shaw, who was looking to LPA members to give him more clear direction on how high they would like to see him go, said the current 8-story proposal meets the town’s code. Chair Cereceda then said to him, “but you have 7 people here telling you we don’t like it. Your best bet is to table this and come back to us.”

And on the topic of the design shown, LPA member John McLean said, “We want some assurances that the project presented will be the project built.”

The challenge for the LPA, and eventually the Town Council is, do they want shorter buildings, that take up more of the property but eliminates the view, or do they want an 8-story building, set off to the side of the property with a much bigger view corridor? By right EIBC can build 75 units. The challenge is how to construct 75 units on their 1.92 acres.

The EIBC team said they plan to come back to the LPA in August with a better looking design and 2 concepts for the LPA to consider. One concept will be closer to the original v-shaped structure EIBC pitched to staff originally. The other will be the current taller design with changes and most likely not so close to Estero Boulevard.

Before Hurricane Ian EIBC – located next to DiamondHead – consisted of two buildings, one that was 3 stories and one that was 2. EIBC is a time-share facility so all 75 owners have equal rights. In other words, anything rebuilt must include 75 units so every owner gets back what they had before the storm. EIBC was built back in 1981, years before the Town of Fort Myers Beach incorporated.
Before the storm, EIBC’s two buildings were laid out in a L shape with 2 pools and a limited view corridor of the Gulf from Estero Boulevard. Based on the Downtown District codes, two buildings would not support the 35% of free viewing frontage from Estero Boulvard to the beach. Blocking the view would call for a deviation request. This limited how wide EIBC was able to build. Plus with the coastal setback lines they cannot build as close to the beach as they once were.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Just say No to the monster projects – especially tall building that block the view of the sky for many more residents than any so called view corridor nonsense .
    Stick hard to the height and density requirement- and again – we need less condos and more hotel rooms.
    Unfortunately we have at least 2 people on Town council with MAJOR conflicts of interest when it comes to this topic –

  2. I would have liked to see the 3-story option that was turned down by staff. Guess it boils down to taller with a larger view corridor or shorter with smaller view corridor. I opt for the latter.

  3. Couple corrections. EIBC had 2 pools. EIBC has 75 units with potentially 3900 owners (75 units times 50 weeks, 2 weeks are maintenance).

  4. How can Shaw say that an 8-story building meets code? Don’t our regulations call for 2 stories above flood? Margaritaville had to beg and plead for years to get 3 stories above flood. And how has EIBC’s ownership structure become the Town’s problem? If they have 75 owners and they can’t build 75 units within Town Codes, then maybe some of the owners need to be bought out. Are the 75 new units the same size as the old units, or are the owners getting a big upgrade?

    • So buying out owners is not an option in their bylaws, I’m sure. If they can’t get a building permitted, the lane will be sold to the highest bidder. Probably corporate and I’m sure multi million dollar condos will be built.

  5. Can the LPA reject something just because they don’t like the “style”? Seems like over reach. I feel bad for those trying to rebuild their vacation homes before they are ten years older…

    • I think the needs and wants of the full-time residents of the island who have to look at it 365 days a year come before those who spend a week or two there.

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