This is a story about resurrection. Or redemption. Or maybe a little bit of both!
In 1997, the City of Fort Myers pursued a dream to establish a fast speed ferry service to Key West. Partnerships, blueprints, leases, timetables and development ensued. Deals involved an operator out of Argentina to a boatyard in New York. In 1999, an impressive $1.6 million ferry terminal made its debut on the banks of the Caloosahatchee. $20,000 was set aside for the party that would herald the official start date of service… which never came.
Perhaps now is a good time to take some inspiration from Thomas Edison who once wisely declared,
"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."
The good news is Fort Myers successfully secured their ferry service to Key West which seamlessly operates from a much better location. One that doesn’t include 30 minutes of slow cruising through manatee inhabited low wake zones. That can be a wonderful experience unless you want to get somewhere fast. Like, you know, on a fast ferry.
A New Beginning
Let’s turn the clock forward to May 15, 2017, when the Fort Myers City Council officially accepted the recommendation from the City Selection Committee to move forward with Mainsail Lodging & Development, paving the way for the creation of a new waterfront restaurant in downtown Fort Myers. In March 2021, Oxbow Bar & Grill opened its doors as a causal dining retreat, showcasing both indoor and outdoor seating. A mixture of top quality retail encourages urban adventure with sportswear, gear, accessories and that souvenir or gift you never knew you couldn’t live without. The city-owned pier building at 1300 Hendry Street was reimagined into a chic rustic contemporary building, much like a repurposed original storefront or warehouse. Interiors exude a warmth through ceilings adorned with antique oars, modern brass lamping, Edison-style bulbs and stained oak with copper metal finishes. Creamy white walls, subway tiles and floors of large format porcelain tile keep things fresh and modern.
Join us as we write the newest chapter for downtown Fort Myers!
Fun Fact: The Fort Myers Pleasure Pier Complex was erected in 1927 just west of the Caloosahatchee River Bridge at the end of Carson Street. The pier was demolished in 1943, however, the upstairs pavilion was salvaged and barged upriver in two sections and placed on Edwards Drive. During World War II this structure served as a USO Center for soldiers stationed at the Buckingham Gunnery School and Page Airfield. Today, it’s known as the Hall of 50 States.