One More Approval Needed For The Cottage

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On Monday the Town Council will vote on a resolution giving the owners of The Cottage final approval to move forward and rebuild. This week the Local Planning Agency unanimously approved the proposal which would bring back one of the most popular beachside establishments.

The Cottage & Shuckers were totally destroyed during Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022. Michigan based Right Choice Investments purchased the property one year ago for $9 million. The company has a connection to Fort Myers Beach developer Joe Orlandini. Orlandini tells Beach Talk Radio that if the Town Council approves Monday they would like to break ground August 30th and be open for business 8-10 months later which would put the opening at around April to June of 2025.

The proposed new restaurant and bar is one 3-story structure. Customers would still be able to walk right out the back door out onto the beach. The second floor will include a restaurant and bar and the third floor will be The Cottage.
The Cottage and Shuckers sat on an odd shaped lot and when you add in the restrictions of building over the 1978 Coastal Construction Control Line, it’s impossible to build back a structure the way it was before the storm so the owners asked the LPA for 5 variances:
1) remove requirements to construct the building 0-5’ from the front property line.
2) increase of maximum building height by 2-feet 3-inches, to construct a 42’-3” building;
3) reduction of the parking requirements by 97 spaces, a reduction of parking requirements by 85-percent.
4) relief from the requirements that parking areas be developed in the rear and side of the property to allow for parking directly adjacent to Estero Blvd.
5) relief from requirements to relocate driveways from Estero to secondary-streets.

Right Choice is planning to rebuild the restaurant using modern flood mitigation techniques and to move the structures landward of the 1978 CCCL. The lot at 1250 Estero Blvd. is approximately 0.83-acres (about 37,000 square feet) with approximately 0.37-acres of land (16,000 square feet) available for development. The remainder of the property is in the Environmentally Critical area.
Before Hurricane Ian, the buildings on the site took up 10,900 square feet. The new owners are proposing to redevelop a 12,000 square foot three-story building that includes two restaurants, a bar and entertainment areas for live music and dancing. It’s an increase of approximately 1,100 square feet. The new building will be 42 feet 3 inches tall. The maximum allowable height in that area is 40 feet. LPA members did not have an issue with the extra 2 feet.

Town staff recommended approving the plan for the new Cottage/Shuckers with the condition that the owners provide a parking plan to address their request to reduce the parking requirement by 84%. The town code for that area now requires 114 parking spaces. The proposal is for 16 parking spaces and 2 bike racks.

Town of Fort Myers Beach elected officials, and the LPA, have been saying they want to be more walkable and bikeable and try to reduce the automobile traffic in the congested downtown area. They recently granted The Whale a big reduction in the code’s parking requirement and will be getting a similar request from the owners of The Salty Crab. There are hundreds of town, Lee County and privately owned parking spaces between Lynn Hall Park and the Library, plus one gigantic parking lot the town has deemed illegal but has been unable to close down (The Mr. Tequilla lot).

3 COMMENTS

  1. Simply reducing available parking spaces will not make the town “more walkable and bike-able” as the town council seeks. In order to achieve this goal in a safe manner for pedestrians the sidewalks need to be wider, and there needs to be a dedicated bike path for riders—not just a little space on the edge of the road.

  2. Albert, no wonder it takes so long for anything to get done and people get so frustrated along the way. So much red tape. 🥴

  3. Love that the cottage is getting rebuilt but that schedule is not realistic. You still need a ZVL/DEP approval from the town, then a DEP permit from the state approval, a site Development order from the town and lastly a building permit from the town. All are typical for commercial development. Perhaps start in early 2025.

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