An update on the Margaritaville Resort Fort Myers Beach with questions on the resort and the grand opening after the damage from Hurricane Ian:
We were recently interviewed by a SWFL newspaper. The questions asked and our responses are below. Also attached are aerial photographs taken today of Margaritaville Resort Fort Myers Beach.
– Saw you folks want to see if you can do the grand opening on Ian’s first anniversary. What is the hope there, and what would it mean, not only to TPI and fans, but for Fort Myers Beach and residents? ANSWER; We did an assessment of the project a couple days after Ian with our engineers and DeAngelis Diamond’s Team. As devastating as the scene was at that time, we were pleased with the projects condition, given the wrath of Ian that was dealt to us. In addition to having an extremely well-engineered building, there exists a seawall along our shoreline which was extremely effective in breaking down the wave action damages. We are still pinning down our new schedule due to some material replacements being difficult to obtain in short order. We have overcome a number of critical path schedule items related to material replacement but still have some challenges looming out there. However, a personal estimate as to when we will open up, has us doing so towards the end of 2023. We broke ground on the 17th anniversary of Charley, so it would be wonderful to open on the 1st anniversary of Ian, but that would be a very aggressive outcome if we are able to achieve that.
– How far behind did Ian put you? What did structure’s resistance tell you? Now, bottom part got dinged, but my understanding is that’s how it’s supposed to work. That correct, & what happened? ANSWER; We were engaged with coastal engineers back in 2015 during our very early designs of the project, back then it was called Grand Resorts. We designed what we called a Coastal Protection System (CPS) that included an underground armoring wall (i.e. sea wall) with a boardwalk on top of it. This was proposed to run the landward side of the beach to the north past Times Square and south past our property down to Schucker’s. The CPS, and along with the scale of Grand Resorts, was not viewed favorably by the FMB Community and was therefore abandoned. In retrospect, the CPS could have saved most of the downtown area of FMB, not from the flooding, but from the structural devastation the waves of Ian caused. The Town has said the CPS is an option they will consider in their rebuild planning.
– What did you learn from the hurricane’s impact, and what adjustments, if any, have you made on the construction in response? There’s even less housing now. What do you have in mind for workers? ANSWER: The opportunity now exists for the Town to address factors such as parking and housing for the community. As to Margaritaville, we are fortunate to be right at the base of the bridge upon arrival to FMB. The immediate area and beach will be pristine in advance of our opening. Add to that the many experience amenities that are encompassed into our Margaritaville Resort, make it an inclusive experience destination resort. We would have loved to open alongside the many businesses that previously existed, however, their absence will not deter people from wanting to come to the resort. Speaking to building our Margaritaville Operations Team, we continue to be confident our ability to attract the best talent still exists. We will ensure a great working environment, more of a family environment, and that will be coupled with likely the best tipped income environment in the greater area. TPI for over a decade has been at the top of Best Places To Work in Minnesota, we have every intention that same positive work culture will exist at Margaritaville. TPI is also lobbying hard to retain the FMB Beach Elementary School “on island”. The FMB School coupled with Bay Oaks Recreational Facility provides young families the opportunity to bring their families to the school before work and pick them up from Bay Oaks after work and know they are getting a top grade education is the safest and kindest of environments. A great recruitment asset for FMB.
– With more open areas now available and you folks have shown you can secure the resources, what consideration might be given to expanding or constructing satellites? ANSWER: We will be pursuing other opportunities in the immediate area to compliment the initial resort. However, much interest exists by property owners and local developers to rebuild the downtown area fast and in the most impressive manner possible. TPI will again have great neighbors going forward.
– What hesitation if any did you have on resuming the project, ANSWER: NONE
-And what do you see as the outlook for the island by the time you open and in the coming years? Anything else you’d like to share? ANSWER: We feel for the so many that have lost so much, just as our family members have also lost so much. No one on FMB was spared from Ian. We have been boots on the ground ever since the day after the storm, helping in any way we can. We love this community and do recognize Margaritaville will be the first new build to open post Ian. There is responsibility that goes with that, we must be a beacon providing confidence and hope in the new future of FMB. Our prediction is for a dramatic improvement of the island by the time we open, late 2023. The disaster recovery that has occurred thus far, must be setting a blazing record for the fastest and most efficient recovery of a natural disaster in our county’s history. We are just 71 days post Ian with dramatic improvements of services, debris removal both on land and sea and planning our future. Property values have grown post Ian, which is a very good indicator in the confidence of our recovery and future. Our prediction is FMB will become the jewel of SWFL in the not-too-distant future. None of us would have wanted it to happen this way, but it did and that was out of all of our control.