Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Angel’s Restaurant & Jerk Center, Inc.
Angel’s Restaurant & Jerk Center, Inc., was awarded a $20,000 Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Landscape Façade Matching Grant. Grant funds were used to improve the exterior of the building, including new insulated impact-rated glass windows and doors, insulated impact-rated glass slider, new cedar fascia, new vinyl soffit, and new recessed flood lights. The Caribbean-themed restaurant has spiced up its landscaping through potted palms that define a new sidewalk café. Total private investment is expected to be approximately $70,000.
Ark of Safety Child Care
Ark of Safety Child Care received a Landscape and Façade Matching Grant for $57,750. Work included amajor façade renovation, landscaping, irrigation well and new fencing. A beautiful new mural was the finishing touch on the building.
A request for funding in a not-to-exceed amount of $50,000 by Southwest Florida Impact Partners, LLP, was approved by the CRA Board in September 201ó to establish the community-based and -managed development fund. The fund will provide technical assistance and access to loans and capital for businesses in the MLK redevelopment area, as well as training and financial assistance. It meets the Dr. MLK/VSSB Action Step #1 Dunbar Development Fund, as stated in the MLK Plan for redevelopment of the area.
Dunbar Cultural Landmarks App Tour
The Dunbar Cultural Landmarks Tour on the Florida Stories App was sponsored by Florida Humanities with funds from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The Dunbar Cultural Landmarks Tour will take participants on a self-guided route to ten cultural landmarks within the MLK redevelopment area, where each stop will be narrated through their smart device. The CRA worked on the tour in partnership with the Lee County Black History Society, along with many community supporters. Florida Humanities provided a $5,000 grant that was used to create the tour. Years earlier, in 2013, a similar tour was created as part of the Viva Florida 500 commemoration of the State of Florida’s 500th birthday. At that time, and event was held in conjunction with the Dunbar Jupiter Hammon Public Library and the Williams Academy Black History Museum. CRA staff assisted with producing a tour booklet and associated marketing for the event.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Boulevard Boundary Expansion
In December 2018, Fort Myers City Council approved the expansion of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (MLK) redevelopment area boundaries. The boundaries were increased to include the former Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area, the sunsetted Velasco Village redevelopment area, and the section of the former Eastwood Village redevelopment area that fronts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. areas. The expansion will garner more redevelopment resources to be used in both residential and commercial areas.
Harlem Lake Home Improvement Program
In Fiscal Year 2009, CRA staff provided support to the City’s Housing and Real Estate Division in their efforts to implement The Neighborhood Repair and Maintenance Pilot Program. Homeowners received financial assistance from the City to complete necessary exterior repairs and maintenance to their homes. The repair and maintenance of the homes benefits and encourages upgrading of the community.
The improvements included but were not limited to the following: repairing windows & screens, roofs, fences, soffits, stucco, siding, exterior doors, concrete walkways, driveways, steps & handrails, and other minor exterior repairs; painting; pressure washing; installing replacement exterior doors, concrete walkways, driveways, steps & handrails, and house numbers; and termite inspection & treatment.
The program not only assisted homeowners through funding a maximum of $5,000 per home, but it focused on educating the owners who occupy these homes. Recipients were required to attend homeowner education classes to learn about maintenance, repair, budgeting, and mortgage foreclosure. If able, they were required to help repair and maintain their home as part of the program.
Holiday in the Park – Coeur de Noel Interactive Light Sculpture
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2012, the CRA gave the Lee County Black History Society $960 in funds to sponsor the Holiday in the Park event in Clemente Park, held on December 10, 2011. The gathering helped to unify the neighboring community as well as promote the facilities available in the park, which had been revitalized in 2011.
The Holiday in the Park celebration has continued as a free, yearly event since that time. It has been expanded to a multi-day celebration over one week each December, and includes activities such as the Soul Santa’s Parade, a 35-foot community tree lighting ceremony, youth events, Movie in the Park, community choirs and entertainment, and decorated trees (both palm trees and Christmas trees). A number of local organizations have participated in Holiday in the Park, including the Lee County Black History Society, First Assembly Cornerstone Church, Dunbar Festival Community, additional local churches, the City of Fort Myers Housing Authority and Parks & Recreation departments, and first responders.
In December 2016, the Coeur de Noel interactive holiday ornament debuted as part of the Holiday in the Park. The annual gathering brings together families, schools, and local churches as a way to encourage unity and camaraderie in the surrounding neighborhood.
James C. Boyd Funeral Home
Completed in 2014, the James C. Boyd Funeral Home renovation project evolved into a complete tear down and rebuild in the same location. In connection with the expansion, several surrounding parcels were acquired to accommodate parking. In 2010, the redevelopment project was awarded a $50,0000 Landscape/Façade grant and $10,000 Development Assistance grant to assist with pre-construction and permitting costs. The initial project proposed a remodel and expansion of the existing structure; however, the focus changed and turned into a complete tear down and rebuild in the same location. $430,000 in private funds were invested, with a total project cost of approximately $500,000.
Mr. Joe’s Soul Food Deli
In 2010, Mr. Joe’s Soul Food Deli (formerly Lias’s Grocery Store) was one of two businesses that participated in the Merchant Assistance Pilot (MAP) Program. MAP was a comprehensive program for local businesses in the former Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area (now part of the MLK redevelopment area) that included a six-week entrepreneur training program through the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center (SWFEC). Facilitated by the SWFEC, the merchants were taught successful business management skills to elevate their business to the next level. The program also evaluated and provided assistance with interior and exterior improvements, new equipment, marketing and promotion, and customer service training. In addition to following the listed requirements of the program, the owner of Mr. Joe’s Soul Food Deli was inspired to donate food items to the local food pantry when he determined that they were incongruent to the soul food deli into which his grocery store was transforming. Exterior façade improvements and sign repair were made, as well as interior improvements and commercial kitchen equipment purchase and installation.
Moses Down Home Cook’n
In 2010, Moses Down Home Cook’n (formerly Moses Fast Foods) was one of two businesses that participated in the Merchant Assistance Pilot (MAP) Program. MAP was a comprehensive program for local businesses in the former Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area (now part of the MLK redevelopment area) that included a six-week entrepreneur training program through the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center (SWFEC). Facilitated by the SWFEC, the merchants were taught successful business management skills to elevate their business to the next level. The program also evaluated and provided assistance with interior and exterior improvements, new equipment, marketing and promotion, and customer service training. Moses Down Home Cook’n received funding for exterior façade improvements, parking lot sealing and signs, as well as interior improvements, commercial kitchen equipment, and a new interior menu board.
Quality Life Center of SWFL
In 2010, the Quality Life Center of SWFL, Inc., was selected for a Landscape Façade Matching grant of $42,617. Improvements included exterior façade and landscape work, lighting, and new signs. Improvements were made on the north side of the structure fronting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, as well as on the east and west sides of the structure, as both of them are visible from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Total investment in the project was $85,234.