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Fort Myers Beach businesses weigh in on Margaritaville's impact after milestone achievement

Margaritaville Resort
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-21 12:02:00-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — On Friday, the Margaritaville Resort on Fort Myers Beach was one step closer to opening.

The resort celebrated its topping-off ceremony, a celebration that marks the finishing touches being completed on the top floor of a hotel.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers said the resort's latest milestone is an achievement for the entire island community.

“It's a show of resiliency for our island, it’s a continuation of the rebuild," said Allers.

On Friday, that resiliency strengthened, according to Allers, by the number of jobs the nationwide resort will bring.

“It’s 200 plus jobs coming back to our island alone,” said Allers.

Hundreds of jobs coming to a small beach community that has felt uneasy about big companies like Margaritaville moving in.

“The neighborhood gossip is like, 'Is it going to be the next Miami Beach?'” said resident Bart Churchward.

David Cesario, the General Manager of Margaritaville Resort on Fort Myers Beach, said it's an expected feeling.

“I have worked all over the country and when new projects get introduced anywhere, people talk about the impact,” said Cesario.

It is an impact Mayor Allers said will strengthen the surrounding beach community.

“Every day, every week we are getting better, getting stronger, businesses are reopening,” said Allers.

On Friday, businesses like TJ Holzapfel’s Rude Shrimp Co., which was destroyed during Hurricane Ian, are back in business.

“We’re open for business and slinging some shrimp,” said Holzapfel.

Holzapfel told Fox 4 he feels encouraged by the development of Margaritaville.

“We are going to send people down to you, they aren't going to want to eat Margaritaville all the time,” said Holzapfel.

On Friday, Cesario said giving other businesses a chance to reel in customers, falls on beach leaders.

“They have to keep that balance of density, traffic. I think they do a good job,” said Cesario.

As construction on Margaritaville pushes on, so does the message of remaining Fort Myers Beach strong, according to Holzapfel.

“It’s no longer hope, it's now determination and people are starting to breathe again,” said Holzapfel.