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Residents meet to get Paradise Isle update

By Staff | Jan 28, 2020

A development that is expected to be a game changer for North Fort Myers will once again have its date with the hearing examiner delayed.

That didn’t stop more than 200 residents from showing up at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center last Tuesday to get an update on the Paradise Isle project and ask questions to experts in their field.

Paradise Isle is being planned as a mixed-use resort along the Caloosahatchee River, with homes, a marina, office space, a renewed golf course and much more.

Dennis Fullenkamp, owner and manager of the partnership developing Paradise Isle, said they want to add elements to make Lee County north of the river a better place and possible connect it to downtown Fort Myers.

“We want to provide services that a lot of people would love to have and exist in other communities and to reinvent what was known as Lochmoor,” Fullenkamp said. “Things imploded when Lochmoor and Shuckers closed and bring it back to values it had.”

Fullenkamp added that it would also add elements like boutique restaurants and retail, which added to the water access would give an added element, with the expansion of the marina a big part.

The planned meeting with the hearing examiner was pushed back once again, from this week to March 25 and 27. After the hearing examiner gives her recommendation, it will go to the County Commissioners for consideration, which is expected sometime in the fall.

It will likely take a year or so from the point for the first shovels to turn up dirt.

The 271-acre project is expected to include 543 luxury hotel rooms, two 20-story residential towers overlooking the river, a refurbished 18-hole golf course, two 12-story towers adjacent to the golf course, three story townhouses, a marina with 200 wet slips and 200 dry boat storage slips, 600 multi-family homes, a 25,000-square-foot clubhouse, a riverfront boardwalk, open space, walking paths and more.

“It will bring the regeneration north of the river and help to give the areas between the 41s south of Pondella a boost. These are economic engines and we’re looking to be a positive impact,” Fullenkamp said. “We want to control traffic and eliminate transient trips.”

As for amenities, Jerry Moore, principal of Xude Hospitality, said they will take care of the hospitality aspect of the development.

“This is going to be a lifestyle community. Pickleball, bocce, clubs and an active lifestyle,” Moore said. “I think it will be a huge driver for the area. That’s what the developer envisions.”

“A big part will be the marina component. People forget how vibrant Lockmoor was when the golf club was here. That’s been a driver for this,” said Jeff Niel of Xude. “The golf is a demand driver here as much as the marina.”

The project has received strong support, even from those who live nearby, believing this is a project that is long overdue for North Fort Myers. That didn’t change much Tuesday.

“I was very impressed with the presentation. I know it’s a long procedure, it will probably take years,” said Bill Black, a Realtor. “It offers a community everyone would desire. We’re growing and one way or another it’s going to happen.”

However, there were some who had great concerns about what they believe will be the loss of their quiet neighborhood.

“We live off of Orange Grove right before the entryway. I just feel it’s peaceful and quiet and it won’t be that way anymore,” said Sandra Mongeon. “There’s going to be the traffic and getting in and out of places. I worry about that.”