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Fort Myers Beach church's rebuilding plan includes multi-use property and condos

Residents to give feedback on plans during May 25 open house
Beach Baptist Church renderings
Posted at 7:40 PM, May 23, 2023

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Almost eight months since Hurricane Ian, and Beach Baptist Church on Fort Myers Beach has served more as a place to help others rebuild, rather than a place of worship.

Pastor Shawn Critser said the building had been used as a disaster recovery center for FEMA since Ian.

On Tuesday, Pastor Shawn told Fox 4 it's now time for the church to forge its own path toward rebuilding.

“We knew we were uninsured. We knew it was going to be a nightmare, so I started reaching out, I have a brother who's vice president of the North American Mission Board, he works with church planners in California,” said Critser. “So along came the developer who said 'you know what, I will build you a church.'"

Pastor Shawn told Fox 4 that in order for the developer to build a new, free-of-charge church — which would included 36 workforce housing units that will be managed by Beach Baptist — the developer would need to build and own a 105-unit condo tower along Estero Boulevard.

“The condo part up front, it’s going to be the sticky point with the community and we know that,” admits Pastor Shawn.

Below are some of the renderings of what the property could look like.

Beach Baptist Church

Pastor Shawn said he plans to push for the retail space under the condos to be used for local businesses or community non-profits, such as United Way.

Fox 4 asked Pastor Shawn why the church doesn't consider selling the property and rebuilding further inland.

"Always an option, but I believe Fort Myers Beach needs a church presence and so far we are the only church that has come back and said we are 100% coming back,” said Pastor Shawn.

The church plans to host an open house on Thursday, May 25 from 3-6 p.m. where people living nearby can give their feedback on the church's plans moving forward.