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Keeping the vibe and culture: New plans for Times Square on Fort Myers Beach

Posted at 7:43 AM, Jun 12, 2024

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Hurricane Ian may have forever altered the landscape of Fort Myers Beach, but the upcoming changes could make it unrecognizable to some. On Tuesday afternoon, property owners in the Times Square area revealed an ambitious $100 million redevelopment plan.

The Times Square Committee presented several new ideas, including arches, hotels, and walkways. Dozens of community members gathered to see the proposed plans for rebuilding the area.

Terry Persaud, who owns the majority of the properties, shared his insights into the project’s substantial costs.

"It'll be over a hundred million dollars easy," Persaud said. "It's a lot of property here. Because of the coastal construction line and being in a hurricane zone, it has to be built back resiliently, and for that, the cost is going to be exorbitant."

To enhance resilience, the new construction will feature garage-style doors on the ground floor, allowing easier access to the beach.

The new buildings are planned to be two floors above base flood elevation, resulting in four-story structures. This increase in density is something other property owners believe is necessary.

"In order to have a piece of property down there, there is a certain amount of return that you have to have on it. It's expensive to own. I'm not interested in overdeveloping it at all. I would love to see it have that vibe and the culture," said Chris Primeau, a Times Square property owner whose family has owned property in the area for over 40 years.

To honor the area's history, designers have incorporated an archway and the town logo at the entrance.

The design emphasizes pedestrian-friendly features, including an easement onto the beach and two elevators. According to Primeau, these changes are inevitable.

"We have to embrace the change and move forward; it's time for recovery," Primeau added.

However, not all proposed changes were welcomed. The Fort Myers Beach Local Planning Agency also discussed other new developments on the island, such as the Estero Island Beach Club next to the Diamond Head Resort. Representatives proposed rebuilding an eight-story structure, a significant increase from the previous three and two-story buildings that stood before Hurricane Ian. This proposal was not approved and will be revised for an August meeting.

Persaud mentioned that if the plans are approved by town leaders, it could take about 2-5 years before these renderings become actual buildings.