Description of Area
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.
Please note that all of the redevelopment areas have irregular borders; the boundaries stated below extend to the outermost limit of the redevelopment area.
Its boundaries are as follows:
Northern Boundary Northern City Limits at the Caloosahatchee River
Southern Boundary Market Street
Eastern Boundary Just east of Seaboard Street
Western Boundary Just west of West First Street
+/- 540 Acres
History and Features
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 has been updated in recent years—with the most recent update in 2018—to incorporate these neighborhood-specific plans:
Waterfront Plan A plan specifically addressing the Waterfront 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.
Gardner’s Park Plan Gardner’s Park, currently a mainly-residential area to the east of the Downtown core, is slated to become a high-quality, mixed-use urban realm that still maintains its unique historic character. The Gardner’s Park Redevelopment Plan envisions a community of unique identity, where public activities and gathering spaces and places bring vibrancy to the neighborhood. Art and music events, signature street lighting, farmers markets, street events and artisan studios and displays are all envisioned as activities that will create economic stability and a destination for a variety of entertainment and cultural opportunities.
An additional neighborhood plan that combines the southern portion of the Downtown redevelopment area with the entire Central Fort Myers redevelopment area is the Midtown Vision Plan. It is an integrated redevelopment strategy for the area of Fort Myers just south of the Downtown core.
The Midtown Vision Plan is intended to serve as a shared community vision for transforming this part of the city into a vibrant, new, diverse, mixed-use destination. Priorities for Midtown are as follows:
- Maximize the potential for mixed-use development in Midtown
- Plan for a range of new housing options
- Create opportunities for sustained commercial viability
- Create street conditions that are safe for bicyclists and walkable for pedestrians
- Introduce a range of new public realm and open space features
- Plan for “smart infrastructure”
- Incorporate sustainable and resilient measures where possible
- Create a discernible sense of place that will appeal to all city residents and visitors alike
As part of the new Midtown vision, Collaboratory opened in 2018 as the catalyst for revitalizing the Midtown section of Fort Myers’ Downtown redevelopment area. As southwest Florida’s first public sphere, Collaboratory is where people from different backgrounds, interests and areas of expertise come together to exchange ideas—whether meeting locally in person, or virtually worldwide through the ultra-high-speed Florida Lambda Rail network. Partnering with SWFL Community Foundation and the City, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency suggested transforming the former 1924 Atlantic Coast Line Railway depot into the cornerstone of Collaboratory’s campus, along with a modern addition and sustainable, high-tech footprint, to propel Midtown into the 21st Century.
Brick-lined streetscaping has also begun in the Midtown section of the Downtown redevelopment area along portions of Cottage and Jackson streets.
Finally, the West First Street section of the Downtown redevelopment area is beginning to take shape with hotel and mixed-use residential apartment buildings in the works.