The largest available piece of Fort Myers Beach real estate sold for $52 million, almost one year after it was devastated by Hurricane Ian.
Red Coconut RV Park, which had operated under continuous ownership at 3001 Estero Blvd., from February 1984 until Sept. 28, 2022, changed hands. The deal closed Tuesday morning, the buyer and seller confirmed.
South Fort Myers-based Seagate Development Group acquired the almost 10-acre, beachfront property—enough land for about 7.5 football fields—that had belonged to the Myers family. Seagate is waiting to discuss its plans for the property.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Fran Myers in an email through her representative and real estate broker, Matt Simmons. Thomas Myers, her husband, died in January and left the land to her. “This past year has been hard for so many reasons. We loved the park, and many family members worked there.”
The late Thomas Myers and the late Bob Scott bought the land, which includes about 400 feet of Gulf of Mexico frontage, for $700,000 in February 1984, property records show, after leasing it for a couple of years prior. In almost 39 years, the value grew by 7,328%.
“We believe the price reflects market value for the property,” Simmons said. “We’ve worked with the Myers family for years, and previously it was entirely in a valuation capacity, so we had a framework already in place about how we considered the property and its value. Waiting or trying to hold out was never part of the idea. What mattered to the family was finding the right buyer—someone local, with family values, and a group you can trust. Trust is so crucial on a transaction like this.
“It was a private process, but it was still very competitive. The property was exposed directly to potential buyers as opposed to being marketed openly,” Simmons said. “There were several dozen legitimate buyers who were engaged in the process and several offers. Ultimately, Seagate was the ideal buyer, and they moved very quickly, so it made it easier for us to feel confident that we had the right buyer very early in the process.”
For more than four decades, Red Coconut RV Park served as a home and winter haven for up to 250 recreational vehicles. There were 15 RV spots on the beach, and reservations for those had to be made years in advance. That usage came to an end Sept. 28, when Hurricane Ian wrecked everything there, including the 10,000-square-foot office, a 3,000-square-foot recreation hall, shower houses, Gulf View shops, a maintenance building and an apartment, which had been General Manager Pam Bestrom’s childhood home during the 1980s.
About the only thing left standing was the front door and several walls to the leasing office, all of which since have been razed.
“It literally wiped Red Coconut off the face of the map,” said Bestrom, a niece of Thomas Myers, in an email. “Every building was washed away, and you could hardly tell where anything was located before.”
With changing federal guidelines on flood plains across Southwest Florida because of storm surge threats, new building codes and rising insurance rates, the property had become obsolete as an RV park, Fran Myers said.
“We know things are going to change on the island,” she said. “That’s just the way it is. The cost is too significant to even try to bring the park back. We looked into the cost, and it would be several million dollars just to get the infrastructure and some of the support buildings rebuilt. It would also take more than two years to do it.”
Justin Thibaut, CCIM, and Alexis North, CCIM, of LSI Companies Inc. brokered the deal on behalf of Seagate Development.
“This transaction marks an exciting next phase for Fort Myers Beach redevelopment and recovery,” Thibaut, CEO of LSI Companies, said in an email. “The Red Coconut, which became the largest available property on Fort Myers Beach, was and is an iconic landmark for the area, and we’re very excited to hear what is in store from Seagate. We’re even more pleased that this special of a property could be purchased by a local group with a vested interest in what happens here.”
Seagate CEO Matt Price said he wasn’t ready to comment on his company’s plans for the property. He wanted this moment to be about Fran Myers and her family.
Seagate Development Group has built industrial and office projects across Southwest Florida, but it also has developed a niche in luxury housing. Seagate built six such communities with multimillion-dollar homes in Collier County, including Talis Park and Windward Isle. In south Fort Myers, it is developing Esplanade Lake Club off Alico Road. On the southern tip of Boca Grande, it has developed the 19-home Hill Tide Estates, spread across the same amount of land the company just purchased on Fort Myers Beach—almost 10 acres.
“It was a pleasure working with Fran Myers and her family in acquiring this iconic property on Fort Myers Beach,” Price said. “We’ll discuss our plans to develop the property when we have a clearer picture of what we want to do. But right now, my thoughts are with the Myers family as they end an historic chapter of their lives and begin a new one.”
The Red Coconut RV Park site’s recorded history goes back to Lee County’s infancy in the late 1890s. Originally owned by the Koreshans, it became a beachside RV park built by Dr. Virgil Voorhis in 1925.
Don Zimmer bought it in 1946 and later sold it in to Pallottine Center for Apostolic Causes.
In 1969, the Pallottine Center continued its ownership under the stewardship of James and Martha McDorman of Baltimore.
The property did not change hands again until Myers and Scott purchased it in 1984.
Fran Myers was friends with the late Jim Newton, who knew and befriended Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Alex Carrel. Those friendships resulted in the Uncommon Friends Foundation, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Fran Myers.
Through Simmons, Myers said her husband had walked away from numerous, unsolicited offers for the property over the years.
“We never seriously considered selling the park before Hurricane Ian,” she said. “Tom never even wanted to respond to offers. We loved the park so much. We’ve known for a long time that keeping the park operating wasn’t really the most valuable use of that land. But when you love something, and it’s part of your family, you aren’t concerned with that.”
Myers said it was important to her to sell to a local group.
“I am someone who believes in using your local community to conduct business,” she said. “After speaking with Seagate and attending many meetings, I took note of how family-oriented they are. This was the mindset Tom and I had when we ran our business. There were other local entities interested in purchasing the property, but Seagate impressed me with their family values and made a very difficult decision much easier.”