FORT MYERS, Fla.- Plans to bring a big name hotel to Downtown Fort Myers may have hit a snag Monday. An investor has pledged $40 million to build a hotel that would be connected to Harborside Event Center. However, the agreement stipulates the convention center space would be renovated first at a cost of $7-$10 million.
At a joint meeting between the Fort Myers city council and Lee County commission, the city lobbied for county tourism revenue to help pay for the expansion.
"I think it would be remiss of us not to examine all possible revenue opportunities," Mayor Randy Henderson said.
Commissioners didn't seem agreeable to the idea Monday.
"As much as the city of Fort Myers has some really valid issues and needs some projects to get done, the county simply doesn't have a whole lot of reserve cash sitting around. In fact, we have none at this time," Commissioner Frank Mann said.
The 5% tax on hotel rooms, or bed taxes are said to be tied up in other projects, but Commissioner John Manning said he's open to the idea if it's financially sound.
"Our bed tax is allocated in beaches and shore, for marketing, and for baseball stadium payments, so we're going to have to break all that down and let everybody know down the road," he said.
Mayor Henderson said the city plans to make a formal request to the tourism board and commissioners at a later date. In the meantime, he says they're exploring other funding opportunities.
"The developers that have been engaged with us have the capacity and the ability to fund that for us in a public-private partnership arrangement," he said.