Grandview at Bay Beach residents to enjoy Fort Myers Beach lifestyle

FORT MYERS BEACH — Named for its panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, Estero Bay and sunsets, the Grandview at Bay Beach 11-story luxury high-rise is to be built by homebuilder and developer London Bay Homes on the final remaining high-rise pad within the gated Waterside neighborhood at Bay Beach on the southern tip of Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island.Grandview will be the first condominium tower built on Fort Myers Beach since 2008 and the final tower in Waterside at Bay Beach. The building will feature 58 open-concept residences ranging from 2,400 to 2,900 square feet with three or four bedrooms, dens, three or three-and-a-half bathrooms, and private elevator access. Each residence also includes a covered outdoor terrace and balcony. All six of the residences on the top floor will be penthouses with 11-foot ceilings and two covered parking spaces per unit. In addition to its fully-amenitized ambiance, Grandview will offer a pet-friendly living environment with no weight restrictions. Pre-construction pricing for the residences at Grandview at Bay Beach starts in the $900s. Reservations are now being accepted. Best known for its emerald-toned waters and sugar white beaches, the Fort Myers Beach lifestyle is relaxed and presents a variety of choices for enjoying every facet of life. Outdoor adventures are a prime attraction, including boating, fishing charters, dolphin or sunset cruises, and just relaxing on the beaches that are the community’s hallmark. Nearby marinas will provide boating and fishing enthusiasts with docking and maintenance services while offering deep-water access to the Gulf of Mexico. Power boat, sailboat, and jet ski rentals are available. Kayakers enjoy the area’s backwaters and inlets lined with mangroves or traversing the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that weaves its way through the coastal waters and Continue Reading

Vacation rentals crackdown could spark conflict in Fort Myers Beach; Cape Coral passes for now

Homeowners have a right to live in peace, free of a steady stream of noisy interlopers, says Doris Grant, Fort Myers Beach resident.Government should respect owners' rights, and keep excessive laws off private property, says Joe Tekulve, an Ohio resident with a Beach vacation home.It's a battle of rights as some people ponder whether short-term vacation rentals should be more closely regulated, in particular by local governments.Two Lee County municipalities took up the matter recently.And, state lawmakers are expected to once again weigh in on short-term rentals regulations in the upcoming session. Vacation rentals of less than 30 days are big business and growing: The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation estimates the number of state-licensed short-term rental units grew from 117,000 in 2012 to 131,000 in 2016.That growth may be vastly understated in in this era of online platforms helping hospitality rookies rent out their spare bedrooms or entire homes.But as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and others began marketing vacation rentals in less-commercial areas, complaints poured in from year-round residents.They say their neighborhoods are suffering from a revolving door of short-term renters – guests who sometimes thoughtlessly disturb the peace and character of a place.Bad behavior by renters isn’t the only issue. Area hoteliers and property managers say the competitive field no longer is level when owners of homes and condos can rent out the dwellings for a day or two or more – and yet can ignore health and safety measures, tax remittals and other rules without penalty. In 2011, the Florida Legislature adopted measures prohibiting municipalities from regulating vacation rentals – unless they already had such laws in place.Florida was still working its way out of the Great Recession, so sympathy was high for property owners trying to earn a few Continue Reading

Plastic drinking straw ban adopted by Fort Myers Beach Town Council

The plastic straw’s days are numbered on Fort Myers Beach.On Monday, the Town Council passed an ordinance prohibiting distribution of plastic drinking straws in the town, with limited exceptions.It’s a good first step, said several council members, given the risks that all forms of discarded plastic pose to the health and welfare of the marine wildlife and the community.Straws won’t entirely vanish, though.The ordinance allows straws made of paper, plant, vegetable and other materials containing nothing artificial or synthetic in their compounds.It exempts plastic straws used in private homes, at the Beach public school or those pre-packaged with drinks outside the town — think single-serve juice and milk cartons with straws sold in stores.The ordinance goes into effect in 90 days. When it does, officers of the town’s code enforcement and beach and street enforcement divisions will handle enforcement.Restaurants, bars, stores – and yes, even folks who might bring straws to the beach from their homes – are expected to comply.Some businesses changed straws well in advance.“That’s where education comes in; everything allows for a warning,” said Town Manager Roger Hernstadt, when asked after the vote how unknowing visitors will be treated.Violators will face citation penalties ranging from a $100 fine for a first offense to a $500 fine for the third offense or more within a year.The ordinance passed 4-1, with Councilwoman Anita Cereceda dissenting.“It would have been a heckuva lot easier to restaurants and hotels and get some compliance … rather than singling out a single plastic item from the mountain of plastic that is left on our beachfront,” Cereceda said.Vice Mayor Tracey Gore countered: “I don’t think we’re singling out straws. We’re starting with straws.”Today, dozens of communities along U.S. coastlines are discussing voluntary abstinence — if Continue Reading

Fort Myers Beach Coast Guard crew rescues four in disabled, sinking boat near Sanibel

A crew from the Coast Guard's Fort Myers Beach station rescued four people Saturday aboard a disabled 21-foot boat about 6 miles south-west of Sanibel Island.The Coast Guard St. Petersburg Command Center received a radioed mayday call at 7:33 p.m. from a boater reporting he was taking on water, experiencing mechanical issues and in need of emergency assistance.A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Fort Myers Beach was sent out and took the disabled and taking-on-water vessel in tow to Sanibel Marina shortly before 8:30 p.m."This is an excellent example of how important it is for mariners to have a working VHF-FM radio aboard their vessel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Miller, a crewmember at Station Fort Myers Beach. “Being able to communicate immediately with rescue personnel is critical during emergency situations.”No injuries were reported. Connect with this reporter: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook) @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) More: Coast Guard rescues two Cape Coral men from capsized boat More: Hurricane Irma: Coast Guard vet faces the storm on Sanibel More: Hurricane Irma update: Coast Guard Cutter Forward delivers supplies to Fort Myers area Continue Reading

#ASandwichADay 9: Hoosiers in Paradise, Fort Myers Beach

•What: Hoosier Tenderloin Sandwich•Where: Hoosiers in Paradise•Why it’s today’s sandwich: I don’t know much about Indiana. Basketball and a speedway, right? Oh yeah, and a sandwich to put all other so-called sandwiches to shame. If you’re going to eat a giant, pounded cutlet of deep-fried pork, eat it at a place where the Indianan owners have been pounding and deep frying giant cutlets of pork for decades. Hoosiers uses a secret-recipe beer batter for its tenderloin, a batter that fries to a crisp, grease-less, puffy sort of crunch. Its cutlets dwarf its buns, like Chris Farley in a little coat. Lettuce, tomato and onion bring at least a semblance of fresh balance to the battered meat. I still don’t know all that much about Indy. But Hoosiers is a delicious start.•Eat it: 1901 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 314-5601•Vote: Want to see Hoosiers in the #ASandwichADay finals? You have until 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 10 (that’s 24 hours!) to vote. You can vote three ways (and three times, if you like): 1. Like the Hoosiers post on Jean Le Boeuf’s Facebook page, 2. Like the Hoosiers picture on JLB’s Instagram account, 3. Retweet JLB’s Hoosiers tweet on Twitter. Good luck!Want to see who’s next in the #ASandwichADay marathon? Click here. Jean Le Boeuf is the nom de plume of a local food lover who dines at The News-Press’ expense. Continue Reading

#ASandwichADay 1: Heavenly Biscuit, Fort Myers Beach

•What: The Special•Where: Heavenly Biscuit•Price: $2.95•Why it’s today’s sandwich: Everything’s better with biscuits. And what better way to kick off this month-long sandwich sojourn than with a hearty, delicious breakfast. Heavenly Biscuit’s biscuits are tasty on their own, drizzled with a little honey or some jam. But The Special is a thing of beauty. Despite its name, this sandwich is always the same: A tender biscuit topped with chewy strips of thick-cut bacon, egg, melting cheese and a disc of ruby-red tomato that always manages to be juicy and perfect. There are many good reasons to go to Fort Myers Beach, but Heavenly Biscuit is up there with the best of them.•Eat it: 110 Mango St., Fort Myers Beach; 463-7600 or find it on Facebook•Vote: Want to see Heavenly Biscuit in the #ASandwichADay finals? You have until 10:30 a.m. Sunday, August 2 (that’s 24 hours!) to vote. You can vote three ways (and three times, if you like): 1. Like the Heavenly Biscuit post on Jean Le Boeuf’s Facebook page, 2. Like the Heavenly Biscuit picture on JLB’s Instagram account, 3. Retweet JLB’s Heavenly Biscuit tweet on Twitter. Good luck! Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Construction workers willing to “roll the dice” on Fort Myers Beach

For more Hurricane Irma coverage visit: Ed Brown is willing to gamble on a stay at Fort Myers Beach, despite an evacuation order and predictions of a storm surge of up to 12 feet.With the popular tourist destination on the Gulf of Mexico nearly deserted, Brown and his friend Tim Benevente were in the middle of storm preparations, planning to get a good four hours in Sunday morning before it became too windy and rainy to work."It's a crap shoot really" Brown said. "I've been a gambler my whole life. I'm gonna roll the dice."He's lived on the island since 1984."With a hurricane, at least you get a warning," he said.Developer Joe Orlandini was out checking on about 60 properties and building sites about 3 p.m. Saturday  with three other men. More: Hurricane Irma begins to move away from Cuba, winds still at 125 mph More: Hurricane Irma: Lee County officials anticipate 10 to 15 feet of flooding; no more shelters to open He plans to stay on the island, but was having second thoughts, when at one point, a forecaster said the storm could hit Fort Myers Beach with winds up to 195 mph.He's lived on Fort Myers Beach for 14 years, and left the week before Hurricane Charley, but road out Hurricane Wilma. "Wilma wasn't that bad ... It was tolerable," he said. He made the decision based on a gut feeling Irma was going farther east. "I had a feeling."He sent his wife with their two children to Ohio, and had planned to have 6 to 10 people stay at his three-story, concrete home in the middle of the island."I wanted to stay here to take care of the property and buildings,"  Orlandini said. "If there was water damage, I wanted to save (them)."Now, he says, his family is mad at him. More: Hurricane Irma: Storm surge could cover Sanibel, parts of Cape Coral More: Hurricane Irma: Expect impacts from wind, rain and storm surge "It's enough to make it not worth it," he said.Then, the wind Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Fort Myers Beach officials asking residents to wait until noon to return

Residents are welcomed back in Fort Myers Beach, but few so far have taken that option. Estero Boulevard is cleared of debris, but side roads to the east have localized flooding.No businesses appeared to have reopened. City crews were chopping downed trees, with power remaining out and lines down along the boulevard.Otherwise, it appeared minimal structural damage to homes on the island. Fort Myers Beach officials are asking visitors to wait until at least noon to try to get on the island."There's a little bit of flooding on side streets, a couple of cables down," said Mayor Dennis Boback, who was surveying the island with Lee County sheriff's officials, the Fort Myers Beach fire chief and others. FMB HOLDOUTS: People stayed on island CRABBER: Boat captain, girlfriend ride out storm"We are just making a run up and down the island to make sure everything is safe," he said. "...It's passable, but you have to be careful."The beach is at high tide and the roads are nearly impassible with downed trees and limbs.He said he hasn't seen businesses start to re-open but is anticipating that starting to happen soon.He said he had received no reports of injuries because of the storm. Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Fort Myers Beach holdouts powering through winds

Builder Joe Orlandini is counting every blessing as Hurricane Irma approaches him and nine others and three dogs holding out on Fort Myers Beach."The wind is staying at 120 (mph)," he said by phone about 4 p.m. Sunday. "They expected us to be at 140, so a bit of blessing to go from 140 to 120. The surge is the one I’m really worried about right now."The worst projections had storm surge on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline at 15 feet. Orlandini is in a three story, concrete home near the middle of the island."Our choice is a good one for not having over-anxiety issues," he said.He had been out on a buggy checking damage.He said the water receded to "way past" the end of Fort Myers Beach pier off of Times Square."The canals completely emptied out," he said. "The bay emptied out ... it's been hours and hours. It's shocking how long this water has been down."He said when he was out on a Gator Utility Vehicle in 70 mph winds,  there was minimal damage."Overhangs were falling off through the air," he said. "Little porches flipped off, but no major structural damage. Pool cages and branches were off ... Hopefully we get through this without major, major damage."After that, he mostly stayed inside except for when the power went out and he had to make a quick repair to the generator."We’ve been able to go out on porches and be on the back side of wind coming through," he said, to take pictures and video to share.The brunt of Hurricane Irma is expected to arrive within a couple of hours, and experts downgraded it to a Category 3 instead of the feared Category 4. After it passes, Orlandini is watching for the return of the salt water."The surge is the one I'm really worried about right now," he said. "The wind just picked up in the last few minutes."  Continue Reading

Fort Myers Beach residents, businesses prepared, not panicked for Hurricane Irma

Some are staying. Some are leaving. But those still on Fort Myers Beach sounded prepared, not panicked.And none seemed to be taking Hurricane Irma cavalierly.“We’re always worried. We try to keep it concern more than worried,” said Doug Kiesel, 61, of Gulf Marine Ways, a family shipyard that has been on San Carlos Island just before Matanzas Bridge since the 1950s and been through multiple hurricanes dating back to Hurricane Donna in 1960.“It’s very guarded concern for the boats in the yard, for the people, for the community.”Streets and parking lots were mostly empty Friday morning on Fort Myers Beach, with many businesses already boarded up or doing so.“Anybody that is staying is prepared,” said Loretta Beck, who lives off Old McGregor Boulevard in south Fort Myers and is a bartender at Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Café on San Carlos Island.“We have our generators. We boarded up our windows. We’ve been through it before. Hurricane Charley (in 2004) was a Category 4. We survived that. You just have to have a good attitude and do what you have to do.”At Lani Kai Island Resort, staff was putting up plywood througout the property while office staff was working to get 50 more sheets of plywood delivered to the resort.A mandatory evacuation was issued Thursday for the barrier islands in Southwest Florida. But some resort guests had not chosen to leave the property as of Friday morning, opting like others in the area to try riding out the storm where they are rather than find a shelter or alternate location.“We don’t want to put them on the street and have nowhere to go,” Lani Kai general manger Larry Puccia said of guests staying. “A lot of people are from out of the state. They don’t know where to go.”Kiesel, who lives in a mobile home on San Carlos Island around the corner from the shipyard, recalled the now-debunked fable of people defiantly having a Continue Reading