The Luminary Hotel went under a 99 year lease agreement in August of 2016, with the City of Fort Myers. It has been in the works for years with Mainsail Development of Tampa. In exchange for the lease of the property and a new parking garage, the developer agreed to pay rent to the city at no more than 3.5% of the hotel's annual revenues.
However, the hotel project was halted when it was discovered that a deed restriction was in place since the purchase of the land which city bought for $100 in 1936, from a furniture salesman by the name of John Morgan Dean, who is also considered to be the city's first real estate developer.
The restriction in the deed forbids the use of the land for anything other than a yacht basin or a park. It states that "no part of said lands shall ever be sold or leased for business purposes, but shall be used exclusively for park and yacht basis purposes."
Fort Myers City Manager Saeed Kazemi revealed the issue to apparently surprised City Council members.
In May of 2018, the city filed suit against the descendants of the Dean, Stadler and Heyser families to remove the deed restriction. The trial to clear the deed restriction was set for December 2018.
In October of 2018, the Fort Myers city council proposed a settlement and committed $2 million taxpayer dollars to keep hotel construction going. This settlement involves transferring the deed restrictions onto a new parcel of land... an island in the Caloosahatchee River.
The island, is to be renamed Legacy Island Park. The city is also committing $500,000 for amenities like benches, trails and security.
Charles Powell addressed the Dean Powell Leak Property case by writing a letter on October 12, 2018, stating the concept is an acceptable compromise, still providing a positive legacy and increased green space.
Although everyone is still awaiting the judge's ruling, the two parties have agreed on the trade settlement mentioned above.
The island is to be named Legacy Island Park.
The 225-room hotel is planned for a lot adjacent to the Harborside convention center.
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