Demolition of century old building in downtown Fort Myers moving ahead

On Tuesday evening, crews will begin knocking down a building that has stood in downtown Fort Myers for more than a century, despite a last-minute push to stop it.

At the downtown Fort Myers site at 2208 First St., there is caution tape, orange cones and lots of debris.

Andy Heygate, who works at Barclay’s Real Estate, said he did not realize the demolition was happening so soon. He finds that great.

“Right now, it’s abandoned – it’s no use to the city,” Heygate said. “It’s not an income-generating property.”

Gina Sabiston, who also works in the downtown area, has drastically different thoughts on the destruction soon to take place.

“Unfortunately,” Sabiston said, “I have to accept and the preservation community is going to have to accept that this building is going to be demolished today.”

Sabiston, with the Historic Preservation Commission, said it once approved the demolition as long as certain restrictions were met. Now, two years later, she said those restrictions were never met. However, the building is still coming down.

“I was hoping that it would prompt them to follow what I interpret is the correct process within the city guidelines for demolition or preservation of a building,” Sabiston said.

The building has termite damage, which caused the wood to be unstable. It is considered unsafe and beyond repair. But Sabiston told WINK News there are things that could be done to mitigate those damages in the short term.

“The building could be shored up,” Sabiston said. “They do it in many other cities across the nation.”

Around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, there will be a final inspection ensuring all utilities are disconnected and all wildlife is shooed away. Once the clock strikes 10 p.m., work begins to make the building at 2208 history.

City workers are asking people to steer clear of the area until demolition is completed. First St. will be blocked off between Hendry and Broadway from around 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Michael Mora
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