Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

A palm-lined street full of neighborhood retail greets visitors to Fort Myers as they enter the city from I-75, heading westward along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (MLK). Monuments to the historical heroes of the area decorate the park-like areas along either side of the roadway, celebrating the heritage of a community that still exists along MLK. Industrial giants are set back from the road, hidden by the lush Florida vegetation that creates a sense of gentle tranquility and soften the sounds of a peak city business district. Along MLK’s intersections, safe pedestrian crosswalks unite the north and south business flanks, and invite a flow of local walkers and business workers to traverse between their favorite restaurants, markets, services, and offices.

On either side of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard are two residential neighborhoods where a tight-knit community has become a haven for cultivating a mixed-income, walkable and economically-viable family zone. Developing strategies to create above-average wage jobs that improve residents’ quality of life is an objective that not only benefits the immediate area, but the City of Fort Myers as a whole.

This is part of the vision for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard redevelopment area. Its commercial corridor will support its residents through an enhanced level of service, while those residents will support the local businesses.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard redevelopment area, comprised of four sub-areas, is positioned east of the Downtown redevelopment area and south of the East Fort Myers redevelopment area. It is located south of Billy’s Creek and north of Canal Street.


The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard redevelopment area, comprised of four sub-areas, is positioned east of the Downtown redevelopment area and south of the East Fort Myers redevelopment area. It is located south of Billy’s Creek and north of Canal Street.

Explore Interactive Redevelopment Areas Map

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: Billy’s Creek, just north of Whitehead Creek Loop at its northernmost tip
  • Southern Boundary: Canal Street
  • Eastern Boundary: Interstate 75 (I-75) Freeway
  • Western Boundary: Evans Avenue


+/- 2749 Acres


The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (MLK) redevelopment area, divided into four sub-areas, was established in 2000 for the purpose of stimulating commercial development along the corridor. The original configuration of the MLK area was a narrow strip straddling the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard commercial corridor.

On November 20, 2006, the City, working together with the community and its consultants Dover, Kohl & Partners, adopted the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevards Revitalization Plan.

On January 20, 2015, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 3727 Overlay District, rezoning 255 properties located within the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard area. A zoning overlay district is placed over the existing base zoning, and is a planning tool that provides flexibility to promote economic development and redevelopment. It creates direction and design standards to protect the community character while establishing zoning and development controls for future development. As an example, the new regulations remove many barriers to the development of shallow commercial lots that were created during the State’s widening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The MLK redevelopment area was surrounded to the north and south by the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area, which was established in 2007. Dunbar/Michigan was a mainly-residential area that also contained some industrial sections. Unfortunately, the Dunbar/Michigan 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 Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area was never able to generate revenue due to the Great Recession.

In 2017, a review of all Fort Myers redevelopment area boundaries was conducted. The report’s recommendations suggested the following:

  • Sunsetting the Dunbar/Michigan redevelopment area, then
  • Expanding the MLK redevelopment area to include the existing Dunbar/Michigan area boundary with a minor modification north of Velasco Village,
  • Including the former (already-sunsetted) Velasco Village redevelopment area, and
  • Including the northern portion of the Eastwood Village redevelopment area that fronts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
  • On September 4, 2018, the Fort Myers City Council approved updating the existing MLK plan to include an expanded area encompassing the former Dunbar/Michigan Redevelopment Area, as well as the sunsetted Velasco Village Redevelopment Area and a portion of the Eastwood Village Redevelopment Area. The expanded area will allow the Fort Myers CRA a stronger position in which to work on projects for the entire redevelopment area.


Art Stumble

Art Stumble, a mural-painting project on the wall behind McCollum Hall and a corresponding event by the Fort Myers Mural Society, promotes pride in the Fort Myers Dunbar community, as well as support economic growth with aesthetic enhancement. The theme of the mural collection is a “wall” that symbolizes the positive influences of diversity, not division. The 17 murals 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. Mural finalists for Art Stumble back wall project were selected in September 2020. Mural painting began in January 2021 with a completion date of March 2021. Depending on any limitations imposed by coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the CRA, along with various community partners and the developers, plan for Art Stumble event McCollum Hall in 2021. Funding for this Art Stumble is through 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.

Dream Center

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.

Dr. MLK, Jr. & Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvds. Landscape Refresh & Public Art Cultural Landmark

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee (PAC) is bringing a landmark sculpture to the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd. This sculpture will be a piece that is both interesting and representative of the Fort Myers community. Since it will be located at a main arterial road into the City of Fort Myers that is traveled by thousands of people each day, it was vitally important that the CRA and PAC actively seek input from all members of the public as to the aesthetic, design, look and feel of the art. The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in collaboration with the City of Fort Myers (CFM), CFM Public Works division and CFM Public Art Committee are seeking to implement a segment of the 2018 Dr. MLK & VSSB Revitalization Plan, Action Step #7 “development a prominent cultural landmark”. The Fort Myers CRA, in cooperation with the Fort Myers Public Art Committee and Lee County Black History Society (SCBHS), will advertise a National Call to Artists (Request for Qualifications, RFQ) for the Gateway Art at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevards. $100,000 has been designated for the process of finding an artist and commissioning the artwork that will be on the southeast section of this main corridor into Fort Myers. The theme, Dreams, Hope and Civil Rights, will commemorate local culture. These concepts were chosen as the guiding spirit for the piece through a public Zoom meeting and survey hosted by the CRA. The Call to Artists advertisement began in July 2021, with a submission deadline of September 30.

Velasco Village Neighborhood Improvements

Velasco Village neighborhood improvements include one monument sign and four neighborhood signs. The work is in progress. The monument sign has been designed, with a new location is targeted for the corner of Velasco Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Four neighbor signs mock-ups designs were submitted to the vendor. Installation began in June 2021 and was completed the following month.