Royal Palm Square, a Fort Myers retail center off Colonial Boulevard and just east of McGregor Boulevard, has a new owner with a new vision for the future.
Alessio Holdings purchased the 14-acre site from ALS Commercial II LLC for $12 million in a deal that included $3 million worth of equipment. The deal that closed Thursday includes the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater and nine other buildings clustered together.
Alessio, an Illinois-based company, just established itself with a Fort Myers presence earlier this year, buying the 99-year-old Richards Building in downtown Fort Myers for $2 million and purchasing 159 acres at the southwest quadrant of Interstate 75 and State Road 82 for $10 million. That land recently has been cleared with plans for 500,000 square feet of light industrial-use buildings. Kittle Property Group is also planning an apartment complex on 23 of the 159 acres as well after purchasing a portion of the land from Alessio for $7 million.
The new vision for Royal Palm Square is for it to be a place to “live, work and play,” said Sawyer Smith, spokesperson for Alessio and a Fort Myers attorney. Alessio plans to transform Royal Palm Square into a mixed-use community, centering around the cultural arts and quality of life.
“The concept is in its infancy,” Smith said. “It will take many years to see this through. For now, Royal Palm Square will remain as is.”
The shopping center is two tenants short of being fully leased with 44 existing tenants, the biggest of which is the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre.
Broadway Palm owner Will Prather has been in constant contact with Alessio and has been assured that his business will continue to remain a staple of the Fort Myers entertainment scene. The theater will enter its 30th year in October, and Prather plans to celebrate the 40th year there as well.
“Having been a long-term tenant at Royal Palm Square mall for 30 years now, I’ve seen a lot of changes,” said Prather, whose latest production of Wizard of Oz begins Saturday. “I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. I’ve probably had four or five landlords in that time period. I’m pretty excited about our new landlord. Seems like a great company. They’ve got a great vision here in Southwest Florida. I’m just fortunate that I have a long-term lease. We’ll continue to operate for the next decade.”
Built in 1981, Royal Palm Square had trouble weathering the new traffic flow that occurred with the completion of the Midpoint Bridge in October 1997. The bridge connects Fort Myers with Cape Coral, from Colonial Boulevard to Veterans Parkway. But the bridge also diverted Fort Myers shoppers from easier access to the retail center. It has evolved over the years, under various owners, who shifted the scope from pure retail and restaurants to restaurants, academies, accounting firms and other destination businesses.
Royal Palm Square is zoned for commercial general, which allows for 25 units per acre. The current zoning would allow for an apartment complex of up to 350 units on all of the land, but the number of units would drop with the long-term commitment to the Broadway Palm.
“Will Prather is a great steward for our community, and the Alessio family is looking forward to his continued success for years to come,” Smith said.
Royal Palm Square’s previous owner took out a $5 million mortgage on the property in 2017, public records show.
Matt Simmons, a property appraiser with Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons, said he looked forward to seeing the new vision for Royal Palm Square.
“It was the talk of the town back when it was built,” Simmons said. “The ideas of mixing retail and office was really new and bold back when it was constructed. It’s gone through a lot of different stages there. When the Midpoint Bridge came in, Royal Palm Square really struggled to find its new footing. But I know the previous owners have done a lot for the property. Over the years, the tenant mix has strengthened. It’s hard to find that large chunk of land with that kind of a footprint in place. I’ll be interested to see what the new owner has in mind.”