When Will Businesses Return to Santini Plaza?

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Last night on Mondays With the Mayor, filling in for Mayor Dan Allers, Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt said he had spoken to the owner of the Santini Plaza at length Monday and he’s hopeful that some of the businesses in that plaza would be getting their keys in January.

Every business in Santini Plaza has been closed since Hurricane Ian did substantial damage to the entire plaza 14 months ago. Major repairs needed to be done to the roof, the windows, the doors before any tenants can get keys to go inside their units to start their own repairs. Before the storm, Santini Plaza included several restaurants, a liquor store, a shipping store, retail clothing locations. It was vital to residents on the south end of the island and as those residents get back in their homes and condos they are hopeful businesses in the plaza will open again soon.

We have done several walkarounds through Santini Plaza since the storm. At first it looked like progress was moving along at warp speed. Then it seemed to have stopped completely as the owner of the plaza had to work through issues with lighting and permitting. The most recent issue, according to Atterholt, is with the Fire Department which has questions about the firewalls.

Atterholt is hopeful some of the tenants will get their keys to their units in January but that does not mean they will be able to open the next day. He said the owner of the plaza has hired a real estate broker to work through the details of what he’ll be responsible to rebuild on the inside of the units and what the tenants will have to pay to rebuild. The broker will also work out the details on what the rent will be moving forward.

35 COMMENTS

  1. They need that liquor store opened up right away. Sounds funny but true. I don’t think there is one open on the island yet. I had a short term tenant ask me and I had to tell her off island.

  2. When we were there in late OCT for a couple of weeks, you could tell they REALLY need businesses back on the South End. Once you get past Publix, there isn’t much at all until you get to Bonita. Even if they get keys in January, for a restaurant/bar to be back open, it’s still going to be 8-12 months before they could welcome customers.

  3. Don’t blame the town for this, this is the property sowers fault. If it wasn’t for his lack of action and management the stores could have had their keys to open this summer.

  4. Seems to me that hiring “a real estate broker to work through the details of what he’ll be responsible to rebuild on the inside of the units and what the tenants will have to pay to rebuild.” Could have/should have been done way before now.

    • Agree! And why would you invest in that when you don’t know what your rent will be? I can’t see anyone being able to afford this. Sad.

    • Agreed, that now means securing tenants isn’t a guaranteed. The tenants will get the new rate per sq. ft. and CAM and then have to decide if it is worth it. They’ll have to negotiate remodel costs. Attorneys of the tenants need to evaluate etc…This all takes time.

    • It seems more appropriate to have an attorney involved as to what is required legally. My best guess is “white box” walls, electric,doors, plumbing, pretty much whole inside will be on the business.

    • Is that really a real estate brokers job?? Wouldn’t that involve your insurance adjuster or an attorney. Looks like whatever the tenant was responsible for before the storm would be the same after the storm. Didn’t all the tenants have a contract? I guess I just dont understand why it would be any different now than before the storm. Maybe when they all find out what they’re responsible for, they’ll decide to have their store somewhere else.

      • Most interior builds, for commercial space, is on the tenent. I wouldn’t want to pay rent on a space and have to revolved around a space that doesn’t fit my business. And’‘Built to suit” just won’t be financially conducive considering the current inflation/building costs, to the owner of the building. It’s going to be an expensive road ahead.

  5. What a shame that all the red tape and bumbling with town departments is delaying progress . it’s very obvious to this outsider that Fort Myers Beach was not prepared or had contingency plans in place for what to do if a major hurricane struck, I look at other towns on the Gulf coast that have been hit by hurricanes, and they now are thriving beautiful towns. What a shame Fort Myers Beach is still not ready.

    • Fort Myers Beach is one of the fastest building departments in SWFL. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. We do architectural work all over the state. Cape Coral won’t even start reviewing your permit plans for 3 months after you submit, the same goes for Lee County. The beach takes less than 2 weeks to start to review the plans. The owners of Santini submitted plans to rebuild the tenant separation walls October 16th, They got rejected two weeks after that. It took a couple of weeks for their architect to correct the plans and they just resubmitted the corrections on November 20th. If all is well, they will get their permit soon. That in my experience of doing architectural work for over 20 years is quick and normal procedure. It’s not like this permit has been going on for a year. The bigger question is why it took this long for the owner to submit those plans. Funding? Insurance pay out? Just didn’t know the process? Not advised by their architect correctly? Who really knows.

      • Tim, we know the owner of the plaza is a newbe from Miami. Heard he was smart enough to have flood insurance. Most likely mandated by his lender. The FMB Fire Department Has been unduly holding up many remodeling jobs on the island, and need to be removed from their authority to stop work. The goof balls made us install a $70,000 temperature spencer system in a brick/steel building next door. Now Malfunctioning. Totally unnecessary. Romer they stopped the job over wrong installation of fire rated sheet rock. This is about as dumb as the hold up over the lighting layout at the CVS. This is exactly were the tax payer saying comes from, ” Its better to ask for forgiveness-Than Permission”

    • Dear Anne, really? Actually, there are many towns in Florida that are still demolished from the perils they endured from a super storm like Ian. There is no way to prepare for a storm like Ian except to get off the island or evacuate vertically. FMB is no exception. So please don’t make statements that you know nothing about. It really hurts us still suffering from the wrath’s of there storms. It’s not the town’s fault many homes got washed away. Florida State Government is to blame for any these towns not having recovered yet. All they care about is tourism so they flap their mouths with how much they have done, and lie to the public about places that have recovered already so we can get people here. They are not helping the middle class and below recover at all. Most have left the island and sold their lots for millions because they knew they couldn’t afford to rebuild. Which in turn made the hike of property values only accessible to the very rich or big companies. So of course you’re going to see that none of the towns demolished by Ian have been able to fully recover. The rich and these super companies have wiped out any opportunity of many people returning to their homes. Think of
      the fall of the Roman Empire. You can’t have a country, state, city or town only accessible to the rich without the workers needed to run their Oasis. Why should these people commute from hours away in traffic caused by tourism that continues to fill the pockets of the rich? It’s a mad greedy U.S. now and with no help from the state government for the actual people they need to fulfill the need of tourism. No more affordable rentals within an hour or so from the island for these beneficial workers and even builders. These people need help recovering enough to sit in traffic for two hours to get to and home for work. Our government is not there for them because they are idiots that believe that tourism will help us rebuild because they rushed to get hotels and vacation rentals back up before there is even anywhere to eat, or a body of water to swim in. Why because the people needed to rebuild can’t get here to finish the jobs needed. So stop complaining about small local government and stop feeding these corporations that won’t take care of their workers or the middle class needed to make your vacation possible on FMB.

    • Not correct. Mexico Beach (in the panhandle) is still recovering from Hurricane Michael 6 years ago. As a matter of fact there are numerous communities in the panhandle that are still decimated from hurricanes long ago. Have you been there? Most of the east coast of Florida, Tampa, Jacksonville and others haven’t had a hurricane for decades so there’s no way to determine their hurricane protocol or ability to recover. As for Fort Myers Beach we have made great strides in the past year and are well underway in our recovery.

    • Not sure I know of any other town in FLA that had 16 feet of water completely cover them and be recovered in 14 months. Do your homework

    • Not true Anne. Mexico Beach (in the panhandle) is still recovering from Hurricane Michael 6 years ago. As a matter of fact there are numerous communities in the panhandle that are still decimated from hurricanes long ago. Have you been there? Most of the east coast of Florida, Tampa, Jacksonville and others haven’t had a hurricane for decades so there’s no way to determine their hurricane protocol or ability to recover. As for Fort Myers Beach we have made great strides in the past year and are well underway in our recovery.

  6. What exactly does it mean that “the Fire Dept. has questions about the firewalls” ? Seems quite vague. Is the Fire Dept. now actually requiring the replacement of sheet rock that has already been installed, or what exactly are their “questions” and what exactly are their proposed ANSWERS?

      • Give it a rest Holly. We all know you like to look up the permits, the violations and whatever else you can access from your computer, in the state you live in.

        • LOL

          Ken asserted that the issues the FD had were vague.

          They’re not vague. Anyone who cares to know the facts and details has easy access. to that information; many simply prefer to accuse town staff of “bumbling.” But why bother to get facts when you can speculate. 🤦‍♀️

          Kudos to Albert for his insight on the Santini issues.

    • When you rebuild, it has to be code compliant. They submitted plans for review and the plans were lacking information regarding the correct fire rating and fire details for fire rated tenant separation walls. All of this is found in our fire and building codes. There is nothing out of the ordinary. The fire department is doing their job appropriately to protect safety. This is important in commercial spaces. All drywall are not equal. A tenant may require one hour separation between their neighbor or two hours between their neighbor especially if it is a higher hazard. These are ratings of fire resistance. It’s pretty easy to do, but needs to be documented for permitting correctly. Construction plans is a serious business, if things go wrongs, guess what the first step of any insurance is going to be, “discovery”, and they will find out what was insufficient that caused a fire.

  7. It seems that after work is completed according to the permit the Fire Department throws a curveball and requires extensive work to be done. The walls are up between the stores and now FD wants new firewalls? Another example of poor communication with the town.

    • It’s not a curveball. When you rebuild, it has to be code compliant. They submitted plans for review and the plans were lacking information regarding the correct fire rating and fire details for fire rated tenant separation walls. All of this is found in our fire and building codes. They got rejected and had to fix and resubmit. Just because someone submits plans, it doesn’t mean you automatically get a permit. The fire department is doing their job appropriately to protect safety. This is important in commercial spaces.

    • The firewalls were required according to building code. A professional contractor would know what is required in a commercial space.

  8. Thanks for the update Ed knew there had to be a hiccup somewhere. Hopefully things will begin to happen so we can return to our little haven on the south end.

  9. Was there any news about getting the storage facility elevator working again? We have a unit on the second floor with some heavy items we can’t remove.

  10. Thanks for the update! Hopefully it will all work out for the business owners. The south end really need the stores and restaurants. 🙂

  11. Here’s to hoping the tenants can afford all this and can return to reopen. Sad it all seems to come down to more money. Thank you for the update !

    • More money is due to the decline of the value of a dollar. No one is to blame for that except the federal government. The people that issue you your credit rating are the same people that have bankrupted this country.

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