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With a civil suit dismissed, Margaritaville looks ahead with optimism

July 17, 2019
By LEAH SANKEY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Margaritaville on Fort Myers Beach is officially moving forward. The civil suit against the town and TPI was recently dismissed. A decision on the Writ of Certiorari is still pending, however, TPI officials say that they feel confident that it will be in their favor and have decided to move forward.

TPI Hospitality plans to start construction on the 254-room Jimmy Buffet inspired resort on March 1, 2020.

All of TPI's tenants will be closing down operations by Jan. 5, 2020. These tenants include Sunny's Beach Gifts, Discount Liquor, Quickie Scooter, Island Life Realty, Cigar Hut, the Mermaid, and the Pierview Hotel.

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"Our tenants are the greatest and have become very close to us all," said John Gucciardo, of TPI Hospitality. "We wish them the best as they go forward and a number of them are already executing their plans to relocate their businesses on the island. This will allow us to wrap up all remaining items leading to construction."

Island Life Realty already has a spot that it's relocating to in the Key Estero Shops, across from Hooters.

"I'm pretty much completely for it. It's going to be an advantage for the beach. it's going to bring more revenue," said Paul Rankin, a Realtor at Island Life Realty. "Obviously, traffic will never stop being an issue, it's always been an issue during season. I think it will be better once the construction is completed."

"You've got people who think it's too big, who think it makes the beach lose its small-town feel. I think Margaritaville has done a great job with keeping the beach feel," Rankin said, adding not all large-scale projects have done that.

Some beach residents still have mixed feelings about the resort.

"There are a few things I don't like about the project but overall I am content with what the council approved last year. It was just a slap in the face when they announced it will be a Margaritaville, a touristy franchise that exists everywhere," said Summer Stockton, who has lived on the island for 30 years. "I was hoping it would be a private hotel or similar to a Pink Shell or Harbor House. Hopefully they will try to make this Margaritaville unique and blend into our funky, small-town character."

However, Stockton was most unhappy about the way she believes things were handled in the midst of the legal battle.

"I completely understand why they decided to drop the civil suit with all of the pressure they have been facing," said Stockton. "It's extremely challenging when people make public attempts to humiliate you and/or make you out to be some terrible person. No matter my opinion on Margaritaville, this is the definition of bullying."

TPI remains thankful for the community's support for the project, which was unanimously approved by Town Council after multiple public meetings.

"The TPI team is extremely grateful, but not really surprised for the incredible show of support we have received since the news broke about the dismissal of the Civil Action against the town and the news of our planned development timetable," said Gucciardo."Apparently, the community is as excited as we are to see the Margaritaville Resort become a reality."



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