Hilton Tempo, a hotel project planned for 2300 First St in downtown Fort Myers, asked the city’s community redevelopment agency for a one-year extension over its construction start date, originally scheduled for this September.
The developer, ERES Capital, requested that construction be moved to September 2023, with an expected completion date of December 2024.
The project was previously intended to be Marriott, but has been newly owned and acquired by the Hilton Hotels franchise since January 2022. Community Redevelopment Agency commissioner and Fort Myers City Council member Liston Bouchet was concerned about the decline in quality and rankings due to the change of brands.
Harley Sisler, vice president of ERES Capital, assured council that the shift in Hilton tempo would be at the same level as or higher than Marriott AC.
“This is upscale selective service,” said Harley Sisler, vice president of ERES Capital. “If you look at it from a kind of comparative standpoint, you are all familiar with Marriott AC. In my opinion, this is a higher quality design than the Marriott AC that was originally presented. It is the AC equivalent, just below the Luminary Hotel. ,
Sisler said switching to Hilton gives developers more flexibility when it comes to design, allowing them to better tailor it to Fort Myers.
Since ERES acquired the property in January and received approval from Hilton, the developer has formally engaged its architects, interior designers, engineers and project management team to help with the design and construction of the project. The floor plate, on a tower-floor-by-floor basis—and an exterior rendering and elevation have been designed so far.
The number of rooms in the hotel will increase from 132 to 140.
The project is expected to greatly benefit the city from construction to completion. According to Gerald Hendry of Maxwell Hendry Simmons Real Estate Appraiser and Consultants, the total economic impact by the end of five years of operations is close to $87 million with 745 jobs.
The expansion request came about due to substantial constraints surrounding the project, including re-approval for the current planned urban development, approval from a historic preservation consultant, the city’s current water challenges, and changes to the project’s floodplain.
“I don’t mean to complain,” Sisler said. “I hope it doesn’t come out that way. I’m big on not making my challenges my challenges, but I appreciate the time and thought for detail.”
CRA commissioner and city council member Darla Bonk said she had some very big concerns about the project.
“Since we approved it before, we now have new ownership. We now convert this hotel from Marriott to Hilton Tempo,” Bonk said. “We have to get new clearances through HPC. The flood zone has changed. I don’t think it’s just a one-year extension. I think we’re talking about a completely new project, and I There is serious concern that we are not seeing it that way.”
Despite Bonk’s hesitation about the project, the CRA voted to approve an extension to the year, with Bonk a single vote.