Residents speak out against Fort Myers high-rise plans

FORT MYERS, Fla. Not everyone shares the same vision for the city’s look of the future.

Some city leaders want to encourage more high-rise construction, in part to attract millennials, but many people who turned out to Monday’s City Council meeting spoke in opposition of the idea.

“We try to be Miami-light with developments like this, and we are not Miami. We are Fort Myers,” resident Sara Burke said. “Our thing is that we have the Southern charm and the Florida beaches all in one place, and that’s great. We need to protect that.”

Ann Martindale, like Burke, is a member of the “Our Town” committee. She urged the council to cap buildings at seven stories and put a buffer around the historic Dean Park neighborhood.

The city wants to add more affordable housing downtown in hopes of diversifying the economy.¬†But high-rises would come at the cost of the city’s aesthetic character, some believe.

“All it would take is one or two real tall buildings right in the outskirts of the historic area to completely change the feel down there,” resident George Mitchell said. “It would feel totally different to have those things looming over you, blocking the sunset.”

Those who spoke during the public comment period of the meeting Monday had to wait as the city addressed other business, but the council voted unanimously to authorize advertisement for at least two formal public hearings on the comprehensive redevelopment plan.

Both would take place before the council votes on whether to approve the plan. The state will also review it.

The city’s proposal is below: