FORT MYERS, Fla. — If you’ve been down to Fort Myers Beach recently, it’s no secret plans are underway for a Margaritaville Resort.
A group of local business leaders met Tuesday night to discuss what the arrival of the new residents will mean for the area.
“Southwest Florida is the happening place to be right now and this is just part of that that’s happening," said Colleen Depasquale, President & CEO of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.
In a few month’s time, a part of Fort Myers Beach will become a slice of Margaritaville. That’s because space is being made for a resort of the same name. Tuesday night’s meeting was meant to squash any potential doubts over the new residents.
“We heard the same thing when they built a brand new hotel downtown," said Depasquale. "How big is it going to be? What’s it going to displace? And if you’ve seen the new hotel downtown, it’s beautiful and it’s certainly a center point for us. I think you just have to take it all in whole and everything has two sides but, for us, it’s a positive thing to see the hotel come in.”
From an economic standpoint, those with the chamber are expecting to see a boom. It’s projected that $58 million in revenue will be gained each year.
“Somewhere between 3 and 400 employees with 200 of them being full-time employees," said Jacki Liszak, President & CEO of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. "That comes out to a tax impact of about $28 million on the accommodation side and $38 million or so on the food and beverage and ancillary services side. As you know, when you have that kind of an impact, that trickles back into the community in every way shape and form.”
And the site where the new Margaritaville Resort will be situated near the Matanzas Pass Bridge. Fences have been put in place surrounding the property as construction looks to get started.
“It’s one thing to come one time but that’s not what you want," says Marty Harrity, Owner of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. "You want repeating business so people come back to your restaurants, your hotels and that kind of stuff. It’s the experience that they get and that’s what you have to work on all the time.”
Harrity was one of those leaders who spoke highly of the new Margaritaville, even praising the competition it will bring to businesses. Leaders also anticipate the new resort to catalyze restorative efforts near the beach.
“This project is going to spur other projects around it and, not so much giant projects, but it’s going to revamp those cute cottages that we have and bring them up into our decade- make them really sweet but preserve them at the same time," said Liszak. "Which is really important, we want to hang on to our history as well.”
Shovels aren’t expected to be in the ground until mid-August, but thought is just too exciting for some.
Said Harrity, “I can’t wait to get the shovels in the ground! Boy, I tell ya I’m going to clap and just say, ‘Hallelujah! Finally!’ God bless the guys who started this, they stayed in there a long time and they finally did it.”
You can find more information about the Margaritaville Resort and artist renderings right here.