Imagine sauntering through a colorful, historic sub-tropical waterfront city with original brick-lined streets and charming restaurants, shops, art galleries, and performing arts venues. This perfectly describes the Downtown redevelopment district, also known as the River District. Fort Myers’ beautiful core is also its historic and cultural center. People live, work, play and invest here. The River District’s combined commercial-residential walkable neighborhoods may have the style of the past, but they are the wave of the future when it comes to convenience and saving our precious natural resources.
The Downtown district has come a long way from the desolate urban wasteland of the 1970s and early 1980s. It was created in 1984 as a 540-acre area stretching from the Caloosahatchee River to Victoria Avenue and from West First Street to Billy’s Creek. Over the decades, this area has had three redevelopment plans because when projects were completed or priorities changed, a new direction was needed.
The current 2010 Downtown Plan integrates the existing historic area with a strategy to develop the neighboring, largely vacant riverfront. Some of the new projects for the riverfront area include a crescent-shaped water detention basin lined by unique retail shops, restaurants, and a convention hotel; making the marina bigger; increasing downtown parking by adding two new parking structures, and creating a cultural destination through improved parks and outdoor public spaces.
Since so much of the redevelopment in the original Downtown core has been completed, focus is also shifting to the east in Gardner’s Park, to the south in Midtown, and to the west in West First Street.
The Downtown redevelopment area is positioned along the northern City Limits and contains the City’s core. It is located south of Caloosahatchee River and north of Market Street.