Moss Marina Submits Two Applications For New Development


One of the first major development projects the LPA and Town Council may be voting on comes from Moss Marina owner Ben Freeland. After several months of radio silence Freeland announced Monday that he’s submitted two applications to the town to get his new development rolling.

The last plan the Moss Marina team showed the public several months ago included 3 hotels with different price points, totaling 400 rooms, a 1,000-foot long community bay walk, a marina, bars, restaurants and shopping. Take a video look at the project HERE.

Back in May Freeland told the community there are three elements to making his project work: “Is it a benefit to the neighbors? Is it a benefit to the business community and the island as a whole? Is it financially feasible?” Freelend had said the 400 hotel rooms is what makes the entire project financially feasible. Not much has changed from the last plan the community was presented.

On Monday, Freeland shared the following with Beach Talk Radio News, “With all the community outreach and input we feel our team put together a world-class development that is perfect for the future of Fort Myers Beach. Only minor adjustments have been made recently based on additional suggestions from neighbors.”

This will be the first real test for the LPA and the Town Council and what they now have on the books in their Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan.

Here are the two items the Moss Marina team submitted to the town:

The first is a “map amendment” to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan requesting to expand the Downtown District to include all of the proposed new ARCHES Bayfront properties with a Pedestrian Commercial future land use.

The Freeland group recently purchased the Smokin Oyster Brewery restaurant location on Old San Carlos and a parcel the S.O.B. owners also owned across the street, to expand the amount of property they hope to use for this project. They hope to keep the S.O.B open and are actively looking for a restaurant operator to take it over.

The second application is a request to entitle the properties under a CPD (Commercial Planned Development) with the uses of hotel, marina, restaurant, retail and civic uses.

The process from here would be for the staff to review the requests and then send them on to the Local Planning Agency with recommendations for approval as is, recommendations with suggested conditions, or denial. The LPA would then vote on the issue, following a public hearing, before the matter is sent on to the Town Council.


  1. We had extremely challenging traffic issues on the north end of the island before Ian. I suggest that city authorities take advantage of post-Ian developmental planning to find opportunities to reduce density and traffic problems. The priorities also should be focused on quality of life for the current property owners and creating a more sustainable natural environment.
    Increasing density, in any form, is not good for Estero Island.

  2. I can’t believe I am saying this…… after watching the video again, I am very excited to be there and walk around and shop. I was aghast when I saw the initial architectural renderings, but the video brought it to life and much more detail. If there is going to be density anywhere, the back bay is most appropriate. Selfishly, with my home just across San Carlos Bay on San Carlos Island, this will be eye candy for us to look at, especially at night. Love Nellies and Snug’s lights at night. When the wind is blowing our direction though, across the water, it can get pretty loud. That isn’t that often and I am not a stick in the mud, or try not to be!

  3. Having stayed on the south end of the island traffic needs to be a priority at both ends of the island. Perhaps some shuttles from OSCBlvd to the Island is an option via water taxxi…. I also hope we keep people with physical limitations in mind as tasks as simple as stride walking are difficult for some.

  4. The key is to turn Old San Garlos into a major walkway to the back bay from Town Square. Add new small businesses along the road. Pack the cars under the hotels and people will walk the boardwalks and to the beaches.

  5. The property owners will be fined until lots are cleaned up, so the “rubble” won’t be around long. Some of us who live here don’t mind having vacant lots as it improves our view of the beach. Let them hold out a long time 🙂

  6. I’m just shaking my head.
    All of the talk about 400 hotel rooms but no where is HOW to direct traffic issues.
    Gridlock and congestion is all we will have.
    The idea sounds great in theory but unless you deal NOW with traffic flow and traffic lights and traffic on foot, it’s a nightmare in the works.

  7. Traffic should be one of the top considerations for the council with all the new building that will be going up. As a home owner on the island for over 30 years on the south end, the only time we could enjoy the amenities of the north end was before 11 am in the morning, after 10 pm at night or after season. Those of you who live from mid-island south know that it took over an hour to get to the north bridge during season. That is with the population we had on the island before Ian. Now, with these larger resorts being planned the island will become a standstill. Even the season before Ian, we had backup traffic at times on the south end all the way from Tamiami Trail to Lover’s Key going east. I moved off the island after Ian not because of the traffic or storms but because of other personal reasons, BUT I’m still concerned about the island and what it can become with looking at data and thoughtful decisions.

    • I agree with you 100%, the traffics has been an issue as far back as I remember. More high rises with no retail bars or restaurants on the south end will only make the north end worse than ever. It will be a miserable situation for everyone but money talks!

  8. Where will the traffic go? We can’t handle 400 more rooms on top of Margaritaville. THAT’S NEARLY 700 HOTEL ROOMS NEAR THE BRIDGE. Does no one think about our traffic problems? We will turn the north end of the island into the traffic snarl that exists south of the bridge. THIS IS A TIME INNOVATION. Put a parking garage near the Coast Guard station and have all hotel guests take a water shuttle to the hotel. Even that will create traffic tie-ups on the other side of the bridge. You can only squeeze so many cars on the island.

    • No one has ever wanted to deal with the traffic situation.
      During “season” and holidays -I’ve been in that traffic for up to 2 hours just to get off the Island.
      It WAS a nightmare …
      If all these Hotels do happen –
      It will only become a STANDSTILL !!

  9. Excellent news.

    FM and FMB are on their way to be what they could and should be.
    We will truly outshine all other water communities
    with the most modern and up to date amenities.

    • Amen. Build it bigger and better. Can be the jewel of Florida. Instead of the run down beach town it was. And before any of you crap talkers say anything I lost mango Rita’s on time square. So I was there. I saw the crap buildings that weren’t taken care of. The outdated plumbing, electric, and water service. Out with the old in with the new. And if you don’t like it pony up and buy it and put nothing there. You have the same opportunity to buy as anyone else.

  10. Well, we have to start somewhere. I think this looks like a beautiful project. Council and staff have to be extremely careful as this will set the precedence for future projects. Biggest issue is still going to be parking.

  11. There is going to have to be compromise with these developers or be prepared to look at trashed properties for years. These landowners are wealthy people and can hold out a long time.

  12. It seems that whenever “staff” is involved at county or town level, we are screwed. We elect commissioners and councilors but have no idea who the “staff” is that are making these recommendations NOR the ideology/ foundation/ plan/vision that they are using for criteria to override our existing plan documents ie comp plan. No accountability for their decisions, no way to discuss their reasons for voiding current plan. Put faces behind the decisions. Make them attend the public hearings and be willing to discuss and answer decisions. Every time I hear “staff recomends” I cringe.


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