Downtown Fort Myers’ brick-lined streets lead up from a picturesque waterfront newly energized with charming restaurants, shops, art galleries, and performance spaces. The Downtown redevelopment district, also known as the River District, is the city’s historic and cultural core. It’s a dynamic mix of homes, work, and play, in which people of all kinds are confidently invested. The River District combines commercial and residential in a walkable neighborhood that preserves the style of the past while pointing to the wave of the future when it comes to convenience and saving our precious natural resources.
The Downtown district today is vastly different from the desolate urban wasteland it was in the 1970s and early 1980s. Much of the progress is the result of redevelopment district created in 1984 as a 540-acre area stretching from the Caloosahatchee River to Victoria Avenue and from West First Street to Billy’s Creek. Over the decades, this area has evolved through three redevelopment plans, growing and progressing as projects are completed, priorities change, and new directions are charted.
The current 2010 Downtown Plan integrates the existing historic area with a strategy to develop the neighboring, largely vacant riverfront with new projects such as a crescent-shaped water detention basin lined by unique retail shops, restaurants, and a convention hotel; an enlarged marina; the addition of two new parking structures; and the creation of a cultural destination through improved parks and outdoor public spaces.
With much of the redevelopment in the original Downtown core completed, focus is also shifting to the east in Gardner’s Park, to the south in Midtown, and to the west in West First Street.
The Downtown redevelopment area is positioned along the northern City Limits and contains the City’s core. It is located south of Caloosahatchee River and north of Market Street.