I have been reading a lot about the proposed Grand Resorts project by TPI Hospitality on the north end of Fort Myers Beach and can see both sides of the argument but let’s take a look at Fort Myers Beach, compared to some of the other islands in the area.
Florida is known for its’ islands and its’ keys. They each have their own signature and special features. Captiva, Sanibel, Marco, Estero aka Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, Matlacha, etc. If you travel from island  to island, and  take some time to look at the shops, the businesses, the people, etc., you will learn a lot about the island.
Have you ever gone for a drive to Matlacha and look at the stores there?  It is an awesome, little  island and yet the stores are busy with tourists and locals meandering in and out of the quaint shops. People actually come to Florida to just stay in one of the motels and spend a week enjoying the quaint little restaurants and opening their wallets at many of the unique shops. Residents of Matlacha have experienced a constant, steady up-tick in their home values.
There are no closed up businesses or boarded up empty medical facilities. Everywhere, is busy and flourishing.
Even though it is busy, there is not the traffic and the parking problems that plague FMB.
If you ask people what they think of each island, everyone always says great things about the other islands, but as soon as we ask about FMB, we hear “traffic, loud motorcycles, tourist trap, dirty, too many bars, etc”. I recently spoke with a women who told me she had friends come in town and they invited her to  stay with them at a hotel on FMB. She said she declined the offer because  she has no desire to go to FMB.
Fort Myers Beach BikersWhile I understand the people who want to keep the town “quaint”, ( doesn’t really have a quaint vibe to me), but take a drive to the north end. We have a biker bar that attracts 50+  yr olds who roll through town, make a lot of noise and probably buy one beer and stay all day wearing their sweaty bandanna’s and their newest biker T shirt and leather vest, even thought it is 90. If they get bored at the biker bar, they can always stroll on over to Hooters, another classy place to hang out.
Fort Myers Beach Hooters
U Mad Bro Tshirt in a Fort Myers Beach T shirt shop

U Mad Bro Tshirt in a Fort Myers Beach T shirt shop

Then we have the souvenir/T-shirt shops that display the same, faded neon, t-shirts in their windows for the last 20 yrs. One shop has faded shirts with a message saying “u mad bro?”  Imagine the mentality of someone who would actually buy a shirt saying something stupid like that????

Then, let’s not forget that we have a beer/wine store at every corner. A quick count would be 5 different ones within a 5 minute walk. How “quaint” is that?
Step back and look at the people walking around. Do you see middle class families strolling along looking for a place to stop and get a bite to eat or to browse through the vast array of quaint little shops? Probably not. If they are, they are few and far between and there are very few, quaint little shops to browse through.
Instead we see men in long jeans, who are smoking as they walk along, bare chested,  showing off their 4 chest hairs, tattoo’s and their body that screams” someone stole my food!!”.  Next to them is usually the girlfriend, wearing her new bikini, 5 sizes too small, no beach cover-up and we can see that she is the one who stole her boyfriend’s food. Trust me, these people are not going to be spending money unless it is for a pack of generic cigarettes and a 40 oz. of beer.
I live on the island and I would never go to the north end for a night out (or even lunch) because of the people that are roaming around there.
I would gladly spend a day on Captiva, Sanibel,  Pine Island, or Matlacha, but not on FMB. No thanks!
We have a beautiful beach, beautiful homes but the shops we have are not attracting the people we would want as neighbors, let alone people who would come here and spend money and respect the island.
We have construction, dirt and noise, loud mid-crisis men on their Harley’s & grid-lock traffic on a daily basis. It is no wonder so many places are closing up.
If I had a magic wand and could get rid of the tacky Fort Myers Beach souvenir stores, biker bar and the plethora wine/beer liquor stores, that in itself would change the vibe of this island.
What  we have, can’t support this island.  We will just keep seeing more and more closed up, failed shops and failed restaurants. Cool places opened and closed in a short time because the island is not attracting the people who will want to spend money enjoying a salad, el fresco. The people strolling along, probably ate McDonald’s on their bus ride over to the island.
When I attend the town hall meetings, it seems the people against the development are 3 kinds of people: 1.) Snowbirds who own a place here and only live here a few months a year. They are retired and could care less about property values. 2.) Renters who have lived on the island forever, who ride their bike to their
part-time island job and also, could not care about the property values.  3.) the old-old locals who do own but they do not want any change. These people most likely have a routine that they follow day after day and are probably living in 1959 in their heads and do not want anything to change.
Fort Myers Beach is the ONLY island that has the stigma that it does and our property prices reflect that.
TPI Hospitality is willing to invest millions and millions into our town. They will bring in  an upscale, beachy vibe and better shops, better restaurants  which will change the demographics of the visitors and bring the revenues and tax dollars that we need.
Feel free to comment with your opinion.