Description of Area
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard redevelopment area, comprised of four sub-areas, is positioned east of the Downtown redevelopment area and south of the East Fort Myers redevelopment area. It is located south of Billy’s Creek and north of Canal 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 Billy’s Creek, just north of Whitehead Creek Loop at its northernmost tip
Southern Boundary Canal Street
Eastern Boundary Interstate 75 (I-75) Freeway
Western Boundary Evans Avenue
+/- 2749.4 Acres
History and Features
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (MLK) redevelopment area, divided into four sub-areas, was established in 2000 for the purpose of stimulating commercial development along the corridor. The original configuration of the MLK area was a narrow strip straddling the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard commercial corridor.
On November 20, 2006, the City, working together with the community and its consultants Dover, Kohl & Partners, adopted the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevards Revitalization Plan.
On January 20, 2015, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 3727 Overlay District, rezoning 255 properties located within the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard area. A zoning overlay district is placed over the existing base zoning, and is a planning tool that provides flexibility to promote economic development and redevelopment. It creates direction and design standards to protect the community character while establishing zoning and development controls for future development. As an example, the new regulations remove many barriers to the development of shallow commercial lots that were created during the State’s widening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The MLK redevelopment area was surrounded to the north and south by the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area, which was established in 2007. Dunbar/Michigan was a mainly-residential area that also contained some industrial sections. Unfortunately, the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area was established at the peak of the real estate boom. This meant that property values were at their peak when determining the Base Year used to calculate Tax Increment Financing (TIF), the unique tool used to fund redevelopment activities—and so the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area was never able to generate revenue due to the Great Recession.
In 2017, a review of all Fort Myers redevelopment area boundaries was conducted. The report’s recommendations suggested the following:
- Sunsetting the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area, then
- Expanding the MLK redevelopment area to include the existing Dunbar/Michigan area boundary with a minor modification north of Velasco Village,
- Including the former (already-sunsetted) Velasco Village redevelopment area, and
- Including the northern portion of the Eastwood Village redevelopment area that fronts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
On September 4, 2018, the Fort Myers City Council approved updating the existing MLK plan to include an expanded area encompassing the former Dunbar/Michigan Redevelopment Area, as well as the sunsetted Velasco Village Redevelopment Area and a portion of the Eastwood Village Redevelopment Area. The expanded area will allow the Fort Myers CRA a stronger position in which to work on projects for the entire redevelopment area.