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Fort Myers residents protest property development threatening historic sites

Fort Myers residents protest property development threatening historic sites
nbc2 stop the warehouse.png

FORT MYERS, Fla. — People in one of Fort Myers’ oldest neighborhoods are bracing for a potential new development to move in.

Two worn warehouses sit on the corner of Michigan and Palm Avenues just before entering the Historic Dean Park District.

Previously, permits were issued to the property owners to redevelop the lot, though standing ordinances prevented the owners from expanding the builds to larger than what already exists.

Current developers had planned to build a storage unit facility or even expand it to business use while meeting criteria under zoning.

Today, if one were to drive through Dean Park, signs line roadway in front of resident’s homes that read “Stop the Warehouse”.

“This type of development would totally destroy that feeling that we have here,” said Donna Ellswick, Dean Park resident and board member of the Historic District.

Sitting on the edge of Downtown Fort Myers, the neighborhood also sits on the list of National Historic Places with homes from the 1910’s and 20’s — such as the home built by early Fort Myers Mayor Virgil Robb.

“It was the first neighborhood in Fort Myers. It can’t be replicated,” said Ellswick. “For instance those windows are all the original rolled glass. So they’re almost like crystal.”

The current warehouses along Michigan Ave were supposed to hold medical records before the digital age changed that.

“Our goal is to preserve and protect Dean Park and the historic integrity of the area,” said Michelle Nugent, President of the Dean Park Historic District. “Because you put something like this in here and it destroys the integrity of the neighborhood and values start going down.”

Nugent said they’re taking donations for legal counsel. Residents are fighting the building permits given to the property owners.

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson told me he’s met with residents of the park. In an interview with NBC2 on Thursday, Anderson noted the significance of the property being right next to a historical area.

“We can’t stop the property owner from accessing or developing his property as permitted by whatever the code is,” said Mayor Anderson. “But hopefully what we can do is work with them to develop something that has the least impact on the neighborhood as possible.”

Mayor Anderson said that if nothing is built soon, the property owners would potentially have to reapply for permits.

Meanwhile homeowners hope the property owners find something better than a warehouse.

“We’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort into preserving these houses,” said Ellswick.

“We could at least find something that wouldn’t be so detrimental to the community in terms of the traffic,” said Dean Park homeowner Tim Dennis.

Written By

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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