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Fort Myers Beach site sells for $18 million

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Jul 14, 2022

The Southern Comfort Storage property where plans for a 100-feet high residential tower and townhouses have been delayed since an administrative law judge overruled county approvals last year, has new owners.

An $18 million deal was reached for the 7.58 acre property on Main Street in unincorporated Fort Myers Beach, where plans for a marina and residential project known as Bay Harbour, has been at the center of court battles and Lee County government hearings.

The new owner of record for the San Carlos Island parcel is Bay Harbour Marina Village LLC. The limited liability company has a Cape Coral address owned by Corona Property Holdings, LLC. According to their website, Corona Property Holdings LLC is a property ownership and management organization which owns more than 300 homes in Cape Coral and focuses on rentals.

The director of Bay Harbour Marina Village LLC is listed under state records as Marco Brummund, who also runs Corona Property Holdings LLC with Kristina Brummund.

They could not be reached for comment by press time.

The developers have appealed last year’s ruling by an administrative law judge who ruled that the comprehensive plan amendment approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in 2020 to allow for the rezoning of property on Main Street for a mixed use commercial and residential project was inconsistent with state statute for hurricane evacuations. Bill and Joanne Semmer brought the lawsuit which challenged the rezoning by the county commissioners.

That appeal is in the hands of the governor’s office of state Administration Commission.

Jack Mayher, a developer based in Illinois who has shepherded the development, declined to comment on the transaction or how or whether his involvement in the project will change. A messages left with the governor’s office seeking comment, was not returned.

The approved plan calls for a marina with 286 dry slips and 29 wet slips, which are unaffected by the legal challenges. The plans also call for 20,000 square feet of civic space and a boat barn. There would also be commercial, office, retail, warehouse and storage uses.

The decision by administrative law judge Suzanne Van Wyk to reject the county’s comprehensive plan amendment to allow the residential aspect of the project to go forward, was based on the property sitting in a coastal high-hazard area and the 2017 Update to the Southwest Florida Regional Evacuation Study, which found the out-of-county clearance time for Lee County is 84.5 hours for a category 5 storm. Because the county’s adopted level of service for out-of-county evacuation in a Level 5 hurricane has not been attained, Van Wyck found it would not be maintained under a scenario which includes development allowed by the plan amendment. The Regional Evacuation Study projects Lee County’s 2020 evacuation time-to-shelter for a Category 5 storm (Level E storm surge) as 96 hours, an increase of 11.5 hours from the 2017 projection.

In a response to the 2021 ruling by Van Wyck in a filing of exceptions, attorney Russell Schropp of the firm Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, Schropp argued that the decision was unconstitutional because it wouldn’t allow the development to proceed until the county’s “long-standing hurricane evacuation and shelter deficits into compliance with the standards deemed acceptable by the state.”