Downtown Fort Myers hotel fall through after developer pulls out
Fox 4 News Staff
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fox 4 learning a prospective developer with plans to build a hotel by the river in Fort Myers has withdrawn the offer.
From plans to renovate Harborside, to creating fountains along the riverfront, the parking lot next to the events center almost got a new look.
"We have done so much work with downtown that it would be nice if we could continue," said Suzanne Peters, of Fort Myers.
Not so fast. Plans to build a 225-room, $40 million hotel are stalled after an out-of-town developer, John Meshad, reneged on the deal. Meshad signed two other projects instead. One in Philadelphia and another in Sarasota, according to city officials.
"If we had come to terms and had all this figured out earlier, then we would have beat the competing cities to the finish line," said Mayor Randy Henderson.
On Friday, the city learned the developer had withdrawn his offer. Circumstances Henderson calls bad-timing.
"I understand that developing downtown, developing Harborside is a central part of your campaign," said Fox 4 reporter Gabrielle Sarann to Henderson. "Now that this portion of it is not happening, what does this mean for you?" she asked. "This is a small part of a big picture," replied Henderson. "It's a matter of time when we regroup and get it right."
On Tuesday, the city will ask county commissioners for $400 thousand a year to modernize Harborside. The mayor's opponent, Raimond Aulen, says that's unreasonable.
"Trying to use tax dollars to fund a hotel and putting us on the hook, putting the community on the hook to build this hotel, i think is a ridiculous idea," said Aulen.
So after months of promising a hotel, the city says it's not over. Plans to reinvent the space will continue.
"We work harder til we get to the finish line," concluded Henderson.
The city cites interest from new developers already. It hopes to have one lined up by the first quarter of next year.