FORT MYERS, Fla. – Dean Park is quiet and scenic – but a quick look around the sleepy streets of the historic district and you’ll find hundreds of signs silently saying three loud and clear words: “Stop the Warehouse.”
“In about ninety-eight percent of the yards you’ll see some sort of sign,” says Dean Park Historic District Board Member Caitie Eck, “We think it’s important and we want the city to pay attention to that.”
The warehouse property sits directly across from the residential district, which has been listed on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places since 2013.
“It was kind of an inner city and with a lot of love and hard work, these homes have become true jewels in the crown of Fort Myers,” says Eck.
Will Burke has lived in the neighborhood since 2016, moving from LaBelle. He lives directly across from the warehouse, which was originally used for Cape Coral Hospital medical records before they were digitized, and has since stood vacant.
“We made a particular choice to move here. It’s a great way of life, there are all the historic houses. Ours was built in 1922, and it’s a walkable neighborhood — you can get downtown in about 20 minutes,” says Burke. “We just want to preserve that. And we fear that the proposed project will hinder this. .”
The plan for the warehouse is to expand it from 14,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet – and add a 120-foot, four-story connector between the property’s two buildings.
“Obviously I’m on the side of the people of Dean Park,” said Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson. “Unfortunately, this area was zoned for this years ago. The question now is, are they allowed to expand beyond the original fourteen thousand square feet that they have?”
The mayor says he plans to work with the warehouse owner to see if they can reach a compromise that makes Dean Park residents happy.