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As TPI awaits decision, it pushes ahead with off-island project

February 12, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

On Fort Myers Beach, waiting can often be part of the game, particularly if you are stuck in traffic. For TPI's Tom Torgerson, his patience is being tested as the Margaritaville project he is co-developing with partner John Dammermann stands in the hands of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal.

At a press conference organized by Torgerson and spokesperson John Gucciardo Feb. 5 at the offices of Morris-Depew Associates in Fort Myers, Torgerson addressed the lawsuit brought by Beach resident Chris Patton, which has delayed the construction of the 254-room Margaritaville development.

Torgerson called the buildings that house a number of businesses that will be torn down for the resort "junk." Gucciardo estimated that 10-12 buildings will be demolished to make way for Margaritaville. Several of the business owners being affected said they have been told they can stay for several more months while the case lingers in court.

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This parcel on Pine Ridge Road off San Carlos Boulevard behind the 7-Eleven gas station is being developed by TPI to be a hotel, workforce housing complex as well as a site for shuttling workers to the future -- and long awaited -- Margaritaville property.


In the meantime, TPI announced that they are moving forward off-island for a Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel, a 150-unit residential development and shuttle lot at Pine Ridge Road off San Carlos Boulevard. The 15-acre parcel, one of the largest buildable tracks of undeveloped land from the Summerlin Boulevard intersection to Fort Myers Beach, is behind the 7-Eleven gas station and across from Bayside Estates. Torgerson said he is currently looking for a development partner to construct "workforce housing" on the site. Torgerson said that work on the lot will begin next month. The project received approval for a rezoning from the Lee County Board of Commissioners in December. The plans are currently undergoing a development order review. Torgerson estimates that the Margaritaville and off-island project will cost more than $300 million.

Torgerson and Gucciardo spoke of how they put together a plan they believed was met with a better reception from the community than TPI's previous Grand Resorts proposal, receiving unanimous support from the town council in 2018.

"We have worked hard and long with the community," Torgerson said.

Gucciardo and Torgerson said that TPI will eliminate seven access points to vehicles on Estero Boulevard which they contend will reduce traffic congestion. The developers will use parking stackers at the Margaritaville resort to comply with town zoning regulations regarding the amount of parking spaces they need to have on site.

Patton and attorney Ralf Brookes have argued that Maragaritaville runs afoul of town zoning and the comprehensive plan by being too dense, allegedly also violating height restrictions. They have also raised concerns about how high the stacked cars will go as one of the four stories of the resort will be dedicated to the parking of vehicles.

The off-island resort will include 75 parking spaces dedicated for Margaritaville. Margaritaville also will include a pedestrian overpass and the developers have pledged to create three new public access areas to the beach.

Torgerson said he believes he didn't even need to apply for a deviation from town zoning for the height of the tallest building on site, which will be approximately 50 feet.

"We did not need to," he said. "There is no height restriction," he said.

The height has drawn criticism over concerns regarding how it will affect views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Patton and Brookes contend the town code only allows for 84 units at the project site, not the 254 rooms the town approved.



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