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Developer’s ‘olive branch’ is nothing but a pathetic PR stunt

July 3, 2019
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Tom Torgerson of TPI posted a public letter on social media offering me a "heartfelt olive branch." I personally have no issue with the developer nor his team - in fact he and I recently ran into each other, introduced ourselves, shook hands, had a cordial, professional greeting and continued on our separate ways - it was nice to see him. Within a day or two, he posts this "personal" letter to me online. Why do you think he did that? Why didn't he speak to me when we ran into each other? There's no reason to offer an olive branch, although I am certainly questioning his sincerity and whether or not it was more of a PR stunt than a genuine heart-felt letter. After all, he publicly posted it via a social media platform, something in which I do not engage, rather than speak directly to me, or personally mail it to me. So, how genuinely "heartfelt" was he?

Funny, from what I'm told, that "personal, heartfelt" letter has been posted all across social media and even on a news site, yet I still haven't received any "olive branch" from him directly, in person, or even in the mail.

I encourage and invite change

I've said in the past that Margaritaville is a nice place, that Fort Myers Beach's north-end section of property has been purchased and will be utilized for the new development. I have no problem with change - in fact, I invite it, and I know change happens whether you like it or not. The north-end does need revitalization, new buildings and redevelopment.

Remember, I've been here over 45 years - I was here when the island was a sleepy little fishing village. I've seen more change than most - and I've been happy with all of it.

My entire concern on this oversized Margaritaville concept boils down to one primary issue: the Town's massive gift of density - millions of dollars worth of extra density awarded to this developer. Why did the Town of Fort Myers Beach allow this? Was it a favor? A windfall?

The Town still allowed TPI far more units than what they could scrounge together from other properties using whatever excuse they could muster, but something is still very off about this. As I've stated in my past letters, density is sacred on this island, and there was always a reason why the Town kept Fort Myers Beach property owners and developers within their allotted density - to prevent monster developments like Margaritaville from going up on this tiny seven-mile stretch of land. So why is the Town allowing a multi-million-dollar discount of density to this developer - when it will hurt the Town's residents and cause even worse traffic?

The Town of Fort Myers Beach was incorporated with, and for, the specific purpose of preserving that "small-town" island feel after a larger resort went up on the island in the 1990s. Yet within a couple decades, the very council that voted to protect this community voted to allow a monster development like TPI's Margaritaville go up.

We thought we were going to have a development that would revitalize the north end of Fort Myers Beach, not overshadow it.

TPI's concessions or 'gifts'

are just sad sales tactics

The Town "gifts" this development company claims to be giving the community in exchange for all that extra density isn't even accurate.

Their claim that they're going to build in a way to allow views of the shoreline is false, as their own concept video shows that the shoreline will be hindered by tall fencing down the entire perimeter of their beach-side property.

Their claim that providing an overhead pedestrian walkway will help with traffic is really just to herd people from one section of their business to another. It's just a corporate sales tactic with the false cloak of "available for public use." They're even placing this overpass in the wrong location - any good contractor would know that. I've offered to personally pay for and construct a proper overpass with my own money in the right location, and my offer still stands.

A development company like TPI trying to work deals with a Town is nothing new - but they should be doing more to prepare for the influx of traffic and parking problems their oversized resort will directly create. Presenting these solutions as "gifts" to the Town in exchange for zoning density is just plain wrong. It's just another perceptual sales tactic.

Scale it back or pay for it yourself

As I've stated previously, I am not against this oversized development to be malicious, or because I am jealous - to each their own - all I am against is the Town's approval for allowing such a large, oversized development in that location. If they scale back their plans to fit within the properly allotted density, I'd be happy to see it go up. Either that, or the developer can foot that extra money on their own.

I built the Lani Kai over 40 years ago to be an affordable place where anyone can come and enjoy beautiful Fort Myers Beach without worrying about spending a week's salary just to have a fun beach day - it was a mission that my wife, Grace, and I have stuck by since the beginning. It will always be your friend, it will always be your place, and we will always have our prices very reasonable for everyone to enjoy. Whether or not Margaritaville goes up as currently planned on Fort Myers Beach, we will never fight the competition and raise our rates due to it. The only ones who would lose then are the beach-goers, and I built this place for you. I thank you all for reading my letters, and for all the calls I've received on them.

I am truly thankful for each and every one of my guests and patrons, and truly mean it when I say "Thanks for being here."

Thank you,

Robert Conidaris

40-year owner of the

Lani Kai Island Resort



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