Neighborhood Plan gets the Green Light
An up-and-coming downtown Fort Myers neighborhood received the green light.
The Fort Myers City Council on Monday unanimously approved the redevelopment concept plan of Gardner’s Park, which will create an artisan district geared toward attracting millennials to Fort Myers.
“Think Coconut Grove, Delray Beach,” said Jerry Miller, who owns several undeveloped parcels in Gardner’s Park. “This is very exciting. There’s been a lot of interest in this area.”
Gardner’s Park, a 1920s neighborhood north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Fowler Street and Evans Avenue, is home to several small retail shops and cafes.
Several neighborhood meetings were held over the course of a year to allow residents and business owners to weigh in on the future.
And what they came up with is an active arts district, which offers more housing and living space above small shops and art studios.
But more housing means more people washing dishes and flushing toilets; a condition that cannot be supported with the city’s current water and sewer system. So city officials put in a fix to allow growth to pay for itself.
The density will allow six units per acre by right, and 12 units with a special allocation. In addition, the building height is set at three stories by right and five stories by planned unit development. If a property owner wants to develop beyond what is allowed by right, they will have to pay extra.!
The plan includes ! street lighting, signs and gateway arches marking the boundaries of the neighborhood to promote the Gardner’s Park name, and also provides additional security like security cameras and a neighborhood watch.
The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency worked with residents and business owners, and contracted with a design firm, EnSite, for $37,000 to develop the plan.
But some kinks in the plan need to be worked out before everyone is on board. Multiple residents asked council to be weary of allowing five-story buildings overlooking their home and blocking sunshine, and one woman pointed out a technicality in the language prevents a coffee shop from opening.
The plan will be worked on and brought back to council in the first quarter of next year.
In other news, council unanimously approved a 99-year lease on the Harbor-side Event Center with Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging and Development. The lease eliminates the city’s $900,000 annual subsidy to the event center and also provides an annual $1 management fee to Mainsail.
Council members selected Mainsail in April to build and manage a 225-room, full-service hotel and parking garage, as well as take over management of Harborside. The event center will continue to be used by and open to the general public, and Mainsail will provide everything required to operate and manage the facility.
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