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“We just want to preserve that:" Dean Park residents voice concerns over warehouse plans

Posted at 6:45 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 06:21:52-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dean Park is quiet and quaint - but a quick look up and down the historic neighborhood's sleepy streets, and you'll find hundreds of signs silently making three words loud and clear: 'Stop the Warehouse'.

“In about ninety-eight percent of the yards you’ll see some kind of sign," says Caitie Eck, a Board Member with the Dean Park Historic District, "We feel this is important, and we want the city to be paying attention to that.”

The warehouse property is directly across the street from the residential district, which has been listed on the U.S. Department of Interior's National Register of Historic Places since 2013.

“This was a sort of down-trodden area and through a lot of love and a lot of hard work, these houses have become really jewels in the crown of Fort Myers," says Eck.

Will Burke has lived in the neighborhood since 2016, moving from LaBelle. He lives directly across the street from the warehouse, which was originally used for medical records for Cape Coral Hospital before they became digitalized, and has sat vacant ever since.

“We made a particular choice to move here. It’s a great way of life, there’s all historic houses. Ours was built in 1922, and it’s a walkable neighborhood - you can get to downtown in like twenty minutes," says Burke. “We just want to preserve that. And we’re worried that the proposed project might get in the way of that.”

The plan for the warehouse is to take it from 14,000 square feet up to 40,000 square feet - and to add a 120 foot connector that's four stories high between the two buildings on the property.

“Obviously I side with the residents of Dean Park," says Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson. “Unfortunately that area was zoned for that years ago. The question is now, do they have the right to expand beyond the original fourteen thousand square feet that they have?”

The Mayor says that he plans on working with the property owner of the warehouse to see if they can reach a compromise that makes the residents of Dean Park happy.