Downtown Fort Myers Revitalization Continues

The continued revitalization of Downtown Fort Myers took another step forward with the unveiling of the City’s latest venture on 7th December 2012. Completion of the $5.3 million river project has changed the face of Downtown Fort Myers. The project has extended the Caloosahatchee River and brought it inwards and upwards to Bay Street, forming 2 large basins. This newly constructed waterfront area is ripe for further investor development. Diversity of the Downtown area and entertainment options have been key in the vision of the development. The City is hoping to attract a hotel, restaurants and private sector offices to build along the newly created waterfront. Randy Henderson, the Mayor of Fort Myers, said “What the city wants to do is create the opportunity for people to come in and experience what they want. We’re getting there, and we’re getting there a little bit at a time.”

The riverfront project was conceived around 4 years ago. City leaders had a vision of attracting people who would spend money in the Downtown district at the many shops, restaurants and various specialized businesses. The City is further hoping that by developing the Downtown and riverfront, it will get back into the convention business which can be lucrative for the area. The City already has the Harborside Center so has a building suitable for conventions. Plus the Harborside is cheaper to rent than other comparable locations and is within walking distance of the riverfront area. The issue is the City does not have a hotel big enough to hold delegates so they can compete and advertise for convention business. Currently the only hotel Downtown is the Indigo Hotel. This is a boutique hotel so not big enough to cope with a convention type event. By creating a beautiful waterfront ready for expansion, Downtown Fort Myers is hoping to attract a developer that will build a hotel with at least 200 rooms with the ability to further expand if demand required it.

Experts in long term city development agree that the master plan for the City of Fort Myers should be based on a 24/7 city model where those who work downtown also live and play downtown. How the City does this is subject of much debate. Some commercial brokers suggest the best way to do this is ensure there is suitable housing for those who work downtown. During the housing boom, prices in Downtown Fort Myers increased so dramatically that people who worked there could not afford to live there. This has now changed and affordable homes, particularly newly built condos, are plentiful and attracting a whole new range of buyers from all over the world. There is much talk of the city developing an ‘economic spine’ so to create high paying jobs which in turn will attract new residents who gravitate towards urban living. One way to do this may be by the city becoming attractive to technology start up companies and has been raised as a possible avenue to explore. What ever the City of Fort Myers decides to do, the general feeling is the city should make a fairly swift decision on its’ direction. The completed riverfront basin project is an ideal first step

Keely Smith is a Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker primarily serving the Southwest Florida coast. Keely specializes in the Cape Coral fl Real Estate market and also in the Fort Myers Fl Real Estate market. Her expertise is in helping out of state and overseas clients wishing to purchase a second home either for personal usage or as investment vacation property with income potential.

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