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Beach Baptist discusses condo plans at open house on Fort Myers Beach

Beach Baptist renderings
Posted at 7:41 PM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 13:11:17-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — On Thursday, plans to rebuild for the only church that has said it's returning to Fort Myers Beach since Hurricane Ian, met with celebration and contention from residents.

Beach Baptist, Pastor Shawn Critser told Fox 4 about the church's plans to partner with a developer who will build them a church for free, including workforce housing, but has to include a condo tower in front of the property.

Click here for more on that plan.

Heather McDonald, said Beach Baptist is part of her life and she doesn't even live on the island.

“I drive from Lehigh (Acres) and come to church every single Sunday,” said McDonald.

During the open house, others like Sharon Prevatt wanted to know more about the project.

“The concern is what is the overall plan,” said Prevatt.

Renderings of the new mixed-building were placed along tables showing the church’s plans to rebuild with workforce housing and a brand new condo tower along the front of the property on Estero Boulevard.

Heather McDonald said it took seeing the rendering in person for her to realize the project's potential.

“Looking at the plans, how they have it laid out today, does it justice,” said McDonald.

Pastor Shawn said the uninsured church before Hurricane Ian, meant partnering with a developer to build condos out front which includes a new church for the congregation, free of charge.

Sharon Prevatt told Fox 4 the development decisions should come from a community vote.

“ I would say the number one concern is something like this has to come to a referendum, and the hard part is its private property,” said Prevatt.

On Thursday, others wrote on comment cards their concerns over the height of the condos and the traffic impact they say it could have on Estero Boulevard.

It was a mixed conversation inside the hollowed-out Fort Myers Beach church.

“They constantly are feeding people every day…this is why I come to this church,” said McDonald.

“Everything across from us is going to be built up everything besides us is going the be built up and unfortunately, we will have to be built up,” said Pastor Shawn Critser.