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December trial date for Luminary Hotel issues could bring another issue

A non-jury trial to settle a dispute over title restriction on city-owned land may not be until December, which is two months past the deadline developers gave the city to get this cleared up in court.

Developers have already started construction on the land in question where the Luminary Hotel is to be built, next to the Harborside Event Center downtown Fort Myers.

Debate over building the Luminary Hotel downtown continues among community members and in court, but the work isn’t stopping.

Deed holders are fighting to uphold an 1936 agreement that the site wouldn’t be used for anything other than a public park or yacht basin. The city’s suing them to get the title cleared.

Johnny Saracino of Fort Myers said, “It was a parking lot for all this time. It was an eyesore. We need something that will bring in some bucks.”

Developers gave the city until october 1, to clear up the legal issues but a judge can’t get the trial scheduled until December.

Public projects like this one have deadlines and the deadline has already been extended but November could jeopardize that.

City Attorney Jim Humphrey is confident the developers will agree to give the city more time, “It was somewhat disappointing but he explained that he had older cases that came first.”

“If we get it done before the end of the year the project will be ongoing. We’ll just have to go in and update some of the decisions and agreements between the parties” said Humphrey.

The judge says if time opens up, he’ll get to the trial earlier, but it would still be past the deadline.

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