Although Sanibel Island property values for single family homes and condos will dip in the immediate future, they ultimately will appreciate above pre-hurricane levels, Michael Polly — president and managing partner of Royal Shell Real Estate, Inc., and Royal Shell Vacations, Inc. — told members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, who gathered for its monthly business lunch April 12 at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort in Fort Myers.
“While the short-term outlook for the Sanibel real estate market may be somewhat uncertain, we believe long-term prospects remain strong,” Polly said. “We believe when we reach the tipping point where there are more businesses open than there are closed, and more rentals available, we will see a surge in rentals.” The Captiva Island market, he added, won’t feel the same impact because it suffered less hurricane damage than Sanibel and has fewer properties.
With a strong background in real estate, Polly oversees the marketing for R.L.R. Investments’ business assets in southwest Florida. The firm has vast rental property and commercial holdings on Sanibel and Captiva islands and just off-island at Port Sanibel Marina, which opened shortly after the storm to accommodate boat transportation to and from the islands.
“We are thrilled to report that thanks to the incredible support we have received, R.L.R. Investments properties are well on their way to resume normal operations,” Polly said. “Presently we believe the lion’s share of our tenants will be reopening their businesses.”
He gave a rundown on the status of island properties, noting that 30 percent of Royal Shell rental homes on Captiva have reopened, along with its office. At Jensen’s Captiva Marina and Cottages, all 14 cottages, the docks, and the ship’s store sustained damage. Royal Shell is restoring the cottages as close to their original condition as possible.
Also on Captiva, The Island Store reopened in December under management of Bailey’s General Store.
The Sanibel Royal Shell office is under renovation to reopen late summer, and staff currently works out of the firm’s Welcome Center.
All of R.L.R.’s shopping centers are on their way to recovery with intent to build back stronger, including Village Shops, Old Sanibel Shops, The Robert’s Center, Promenade, and Tahitian Gardens. He noted that Cheeburger Cheeburger will return to Tahitian Gardens.
Polly talked about the work underway at Sundial Beach Resort, with power restored at the resort and an aim to rehabilitate condominiums.
“I know that you would love to hear some specifics today; I know you would love to hear a day when things will open,” said Polly. “When things are final, when they are finished, when they are complete…. All I can say is we’re working as hard as we can to bring our islands back to operating conditions.”
“We thank Michael for filling in as many of the blanks as he could on R.L.R. properties,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “There has been a lot of uncertainty and questions flying around the islands concerning how the future of those properties looks. We understand the supply and labor challenges, and are happy to see and hear things are moving forward.”
Lai updated the capacity crowd of about 150 chamber and Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association members on chamber news, announcing that the chamber Welcome Center will reopen in May.
He thanked the Community Foundation of the Islands (CFI) for its support, which included a $16,400 grant to underwrite the “open sign” program to identify businesses back up running since the storm. He also announced a recent $75,000 CFI grant to hire a member services director, who will match island businesses with the resources available to reopen their doors going forward.
Clive Daniel Home, GPO Pros, and Premier Linens sponsored the April chamber luncheon. In lieu of a May luncheon meeting, the chamber is holding its annual meeting as part of its May 3 Island Nights at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, where a parade of business members and annual awards presentation will take place.
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. The Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. Its website, sanibel-captiva.org, receives over 1.3 million visits per year. For more information about the chamber, visit sanibel-captiva.org or contact John Lai, president and CEO, at 239-472-2348 or [email protected].