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Two new locations proposed for downtown Ferris wheel in Fort Myers

Posted at 10:58 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 22:58:47-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Economic Development Advisory Board of Fort Myers has identified new potential locations for a Ferris wheel that could become a key attraction in downtown Fort Myers.

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The idea, initially considered for Centennial Park, has shifted towards areas with higher foot traffic.

Steve Weathers, the Fort Myers Director of Economic Development, is overseeing the initiative.

"The Ferris wheel options vary in size and costs. We are currently looking at a model that would cost around $13 million with an additional $2 million for installation," said Weathers. He also mentioned the possibility of a revenue-sharing model involving a private owner and operator, with the city benefiting from a long-term lease exceeding 30 years.

The partnership would generate non-tax revenue that would support city services like police and fire departments. Weathers also noted that the Ferris wheels under consideration are capable of withstanding winds up to 200 miles per hour. The city anticipates that about 10% of annual tourists would ride the Ferris wheel, which would also benefit nearby businesses, such as Best Ice Cream.

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Katelyn Coate, Assistant Manager at Best Ice Cream, located just across from the potential site near the Florida Repertory Theatre, is optimistic about the project. "It's going to benefit small businesses like us and bring in all the kids and families," she said.

However, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm. Tourists like Luisa Sternberg from Germany appreciate the city's current charm and question the necessity of the addition. "It would be fun, but I think it's already beautiful around here, so you don't need this," Sternberg commented.

Robert Nokley, General Manager of The Luminary hotel next door, provided the following statement:

I believe the priorities of the city and district are and should continue to be the beautification and development of the waterfront areas as well as a continued focus on infrastructure and amenities for all of our greater FM community to benefit from. Any significant additions to the district landscape should be done so with a balance of historic preservation in mind.
-Robert Nokley, General Manager of the Luminary Hotel

The next step for this project will be to seek approval from the Historic Preservation Committee, which is scheduled to review the proposal on May 23rd.