Description of Area
East Fort Myers
The East Fort Myers redevelopment area is positioned along the northern City Limits, to the east of the Downtown redevelopment area. It is located south of the Caloosahatchee River and north of Billy’s Creek, which meanders north of Olivet Way on its southernmost dip.
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 Billy’s Creek, meandering north of Olivet Way on its southernmost dip
Eastern Boundary Eastern City Limits at Prospect Avenue
Western Boundary Western Edge of Billy’s Creek, just west of Frierson Street
+/- 1036 Acres
History and Features
The East Fort Myers (EFM) redevelopment area was created in May 2007 to establish a funding source that would subsequently focus on efforts to redevelop and revitalize the East Fort Myers neighborhoods and the commercial corridor along Palm Beach Boulevard. Its boundaries are the Caloosahatchee River on the north, Billy’s Creek on the south and west, and the Fort Myers city limits on the east.
The initial plan for the area, East Fort Myers (EFM) Revitalization and Redevelopment Plan, was a joint effort of East Fort Myers residents and the City of Fort Myers planning staff. It was recommended for adoption by the Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners on April 11, 2007, and by the Planning Board on April 24, 2007. This plan included changing the maximum building height from 3 stories to 10 stories. When the plan was finally adopted by Fort Myers City Council, they recommended hiring a consultant to further study height and density allowances.
The nationally-acclaimed planning firm of Dover, Kohl & Partners was hired to work with the residents, business owners and city staff to prepare an in-depth, comprehensive redevelopment plan for the area. Strategic community meetings and charrette workshops were held in June 2008 where community feedback helped the consultant formulate four major recommendations that were presented to Council in a special June 12, 2008 workshop:
- City of Neighborhoods Create compact, complete, sustainable neighborhoods, anchored by new mixed-use centers.
- Build More–But Make It Good Grow a denser mix of uses and more diverse, first-quality housing.
- Transform the Boulevard Make Palm Beach Boulevard work for businesses and pedestrians.
- Connect Green Spaces Assemble a better green network, and enhance connections to the Caloosahatchee River and Billy’s Creek.
The first draft of the comprehensive East Fort Myers Revitalization & Redevelopment Plan was presented to the City in October 2008; following comments from City staff and other agencies, a second draft was completed in May 2009. City Council requested additional public input, and a series of workshops were held throughout the balance of the year to resolve a number of issues brought forth by property owners within the district. The final plan was adopted on May 3, 2010.
Unfortunately, the East Fort Myers 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 East Fort Myers redevelopment area did not generate much revenue due to the Great Recession.
Some funds were available in the early years of the redevelopment area, however, and these were invested in the community as follows:
- Landscape Façade Matching Grant that produced 10 local jobs through the renovation of a vacant building on Palm Beach Boulevard
- Promotional Banner Program along Palm Beach Boulevard, in conjunction with two other commercial corridors, that cross-promoted public attractions in all three, and
- Palm Beach Boulevard Median Improvements that enhanced the corridor’s beauty through landscaping, and created easier access to business on both sides of the street by cutting more median openings and cutaways for easier U-turns.
The East Fort Myers redevelopment area was reviewed as part of the CRA’s boundary study in 2017 and the findings were to keep the area as it is. There is minimal funding for the area at this time; no-cost marketing initiatives for the area have been incorporated through the use of local business spotlight presentations and social media cross-promotion as one way to support the redevelopment area while funds begin to generate.