FORT MYERS, FL (Sept. 18, 2019) – Two downtown projects in the City of Fort Myers were recognized with Awards of Merit at the 2019 American Planning Association’s Florida Conference held last week in Sandestin, Florida. The city’s Midtown Vision Plan won a Best Practices award, and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Collaboratory won in the Planning Project category. Tony Palermo, Assistant Director, and Laura Tefft, Senior Planner, both of the Community Development Department, accepted the awards on the city’s behalf.
The Midtown Vision Plan: Downtown Fort Myers Integrated Redevelopment Strategy was the result of a multi-year effort to engage the community in crafting a vision for the city, its downtown and the new Midtown. The 243-acre Midtown area was the intense focus of the city’s planning and visioning efforts, exploring in-depth how the new proposed Midtown will accommodate smart growth, more housing options, and enhanced economic opportunities for urban infill redevelopment. The city and the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency were recognized for best practices in planning for this project.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation Collaboratory: Rails to Renaissance project grew out of a public-private partnership between the City of Fort Myers and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to repurpose and reinvent a historic Atlantic Coast Line Railway depot into the new Collaboratory. Located on 2031 Jackson Street in the Midtown area within the City of Fort Myers, the Collaboratory transformed the former railway depot into a 24,000 square-foot campus that includes the Foundation’s regional headquarters and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants. The 2.4 acre campus features vibrant spaces for work, gatherings, special events and regional collaboration.
The Foundation funded the project with a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal, a program that encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods. By establishing its offices at the Collaboratory through a long-term lease with the city, the Foundation is providing both stewardship of a valuable community asset and leadership in gathering and galvanizing people, ideas and philanthropy.