Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Art Stumble 2020
Art Stumble 2020, a mural-painting project on the wall behind McCollum Hall and a corresponding event by the Fort Myers Mural Society, will promote pride in the Fort Myers Dunbar community, as well as support economic growth with aesthetic enhancement. The block party will be held April 25, 2020, where the community can watch the murals being painted before their eyes while enjoying other pieces of art on display, vendors, refreshments, and music. The theme of the mural collection is a “wall” that symbolizes the positive influences of diversity, not division. The actual 17 murals produced will feature internationally-renown musicians who played at McCollum Hall, such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. The project bridge an artistic connection between the Downtown River District—where The Mural Society has painted other murals—and the Dunbar section of the city. Funding for this Art Stumble 2020 will originate from grants previously received by The Mural Society.
Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center
In 2019, the CRA approved funding of $13,000 for the $246,000 Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center (BCG), to be located between Barden and Flint streets just south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Funding was requested by the I Will Mentorship Foundation, which will manage 6the Garden and Learning Center. The requested $13,000 funding will be used to construct the garden’s signs, art wall and valor reflection area. Overall, the project will take 3 years to fully complete. It will have the capacity to provide over a thousand pounds of organic vegetables and 200 pounds of fish.
More than just a garden, this urban initiative will infuse 21st Century agricultural skills and the beautification of a blighted neighborhood with art and culture. This multi-faceted effort combines community development, nutrition, education, entrepreneurship, local economic development, and community enjoyment. Once established, the BCG will be open to community groups for hands-on nutrition education, where residents from the surrounding area will be encouraged to eat healthy foods grown in the garden. In addition, the reverse side of the garden signage wall will feature a living valor reflection area, recognizing veterans and first responders. As of January 2020, water and electric services have been installed. The irrigation system is in the process of being installed. The orchard area will be planted in February.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Landscaping Plan
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Landscape Refresh Plans are designs to create a new landscape design for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (State Road 82). They have been approved by the City’s Beautification Committee to both augment and replace the existing landscape along the thoroughfare. Additionally, the plans have been designed to meet Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) requirements for safety, including no sight obstruction for drivers. The work will stretch along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard from Thompson Street to I-75. Installation will include selected palm tree, small trees, shrubs, and ground cover varieties. The City of Fort Myers will spend approximately $1 million on plant materials, irrigation, soil remediation and maintenance of the landscaping. The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) does not have any funds invested in this project.
Next Level Church converted the 46,000 sq. ft. Dunbar Shopping Center building into the Dream Center, which will offer a faith-based community outreach program providing job skills training, hunger relief, basic education & Bible studies. A Lee Health Clinic will occupy one of the storefronts. The City of Fort Myers opened a Dream Center Police Substation on the east end of the complex in November 2017 to strengthen its interaction with the local community.
The CRA has invested $1.8 million of tax increment funds since 2008 in the purchase and restoration of McCollum Hall, a historic building on the famed Chitlin’ Circuit. It is slated to become a mini-town center and honor the history imbued in the structure. Since its purchase, the CRA has engaged community groups to help clean debris from the structure, stabilize the back wall and replace the roof, employ a $500,000 State of Florida Grant to restore the building’s exterior, and now it has passed the torch to a developer, McCollum Redevelopment Associates, LLC/REVA Development Corporation. The developer will complete the interior restoration of the dance hall and retail spaces, then manage the commercial tenants that lease space. Financing for the final phase of this project has been closed. The project is on schedule for a December 2020 Grand Opening. Once completed, McCollum Hall is projected to create 75 jobs, 43 of which will be permanent, and introduce one restaurant, up to five retail spaces, and a multi-use event space to the community.
Royal Palm Gardens Apartments
Royal Palm Gardens Apartments, a renovation of the already-established, 80-unit affordable housing community Jones Walker Palm Gardens Apartments located at 2209 Blount Street, which was originally constructed in 1970. The community consists of ten two-story, garden-style residential buildings containing 8 one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom, and 40 three-bedroom units with a leasing office set on 3.71 acres of land. The roof and windows will be replaced, HVAC upgraded, accessibility upgraded, and landscaping improved along with a list of other items to be addressed.The Royal Palm Gardens Apartments will receive an $800,000 CRA rebate of the taxes generated by the project in yearly installments at a rate of 95% for 15 years.
St. Peter Claver Apartments
Phase I of St. Peter Claver Place Apartments to be developed by National Development of America and the Diocese of Venice was approved for a $4 million CRA tax increment rebate in September 2019. The 214-unit affordable-housing apartment complex will be built in two phases, with Phase I consisting of 120 two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments in two- and three-story buildings, along with a community building. Known as St. Peter Claver Place, it will be built at 3681 Michigan Avenue. The Diocese of Venice currently owns the 17.44-acre site. In December 2019, a grant application was sent to Florida Housing; the developer will learn the status of the application within 30 days. In January 2020, the development agreement with the CRA was signed.
Seaboard Waterside Apartments
Seaboard Waterside Apartments, an eight-story, 420-rental unit to be built at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Seaboard Street, was approved for a total CRA tax increment rebate of $11.48 million in July 2019. The project will be built in two phases. The development will have a two-story parking garage built into the eight-floor complex. It will be the first project of its kind in the MLK redevelopment area. The Seaboard Apartments Phase 1 will receive a $7.145 million rebate of the taxes generated by the project in yearly installments until the total amount is reached, or until 2044 when the redevelopment area sunsets. Phase 2 will receive a $4.335 million rebate of the taxes generated by the project in yearly installments until the total amount is reached, or until 2044 as well. In January 2020, the development agreement with the CRA was signed. The $82 million project is projected to open in 2023.
Velasco Village Neighborhood Improvements
Velasco Village neighborhood improvements will include one monument sign and four neighborhood signs. Work on this project is in progress; the sign has been designed and its new location is targeted for the corner of Velasco Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Four neighbor signs mock-ups designs have been submitted to the vendor. Completion is expected in early 2020.