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Fort Myers City Hall moving out of downtown?

Hodges University building, out by I-75, could be the new setting
Posted at 8:33 PM, Jan 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 20:33:38-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fort Myers City Hall has historically and traditionally been in Downtown, but now some some city council members are wondering if it's time for a change.

"Obviously I know there is an emotional attachment to City Hall downtown and there are factors with local downtown businesses," said Councilwoman Darla Bonk, Ward 6

Councilwoman Bonk presented the idea to council to move City Hall from downtown, to the former Hodges University building on Colonial and Winkler. She said she knows it's an unusual idea, but she added that the current City Hall needs a lot of work. She wonders if it makes financial sense to pay for repairs.

"I know we got a bond we are going to take out for Parks and Rec and the bond for Fort Myers Police" Councilwoman Bonk said. "And to think we are maxed and with so many refurbishments that are needed."

Which is why she thinks a new location is better than fixing the old. The building is more than 100 thousand square feet.

"That building is going to cost us today four or five hundred thousand dollars a square foot to build," said Councilman Fred Burson, Ward 5.

Councilman Burson said moving to Hodges University makes the most sense financially and it's in the prime location where "new Fort Myers" will be built around. He said the current site of City Hall, could be used as affordable housing or workforce housing.

"We would also eliminate the hundreds and thousands of dollars in rent," Councilman Burson said.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Terylon Watson agreed there needs to be a new city hall but feels it needs to stay downtown. She said moving to the former Hodges University building, will bring different kinds of headaches.

"The traffic over in that area is already terrible," Councilwoman Watson said. "Bring the hospital to that area and then the city and it's employees, they'll never get to work."

No decision has been made, Fox 4 will continue to follow for updates.