Fort Myers CRA Board of Commissioners Approves NEW CRA Home Preservation Program and Partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties
Fort Myers, FL. On February 17, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is proud to announce that its new Home Preservation Program will partner with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties (Habitat). Homeowners with outstanding code violations may qualify to have projects/repairs completed by Habitat.

The maximum assistance is $25,000 owner-occupied dwellings with existing code compliance issues that need to be cured. The CRA and Habitat will be accepting applications April 1. 
The Process
  • The CRA will provide Habitat for Humanity with a list of homes eligible to receive CRA funding.
  • Habitat will promote the program, distribute applications to the homeowners, collect and process applications.
  • Once approved by the CRA, Habitat will enter into a repair agreement with the homeowner, prepare lien documents, and perform repairs through the use of staff, subcontractors and volunteers.
  • Upon completion, the homeowner will sign a Certification of Completion. Habitat will prepare the final cost "invoice", which will be submitted to the Fort Myers CRA for payment.
  • Habitat will record the lien document with the Lee County Clerk.
  • Habitat will retain the project file and provide the CRA with a "closeout packet."
Eligibility Criteria
  • Property owners must be listed as applicant or co-applicant
  • The household must be a low-income household (below 80% of rht area's median income AMI)
  • All adult household members must pass a criminal background check
  • Mortgage payments must be current (no reverse mortgages)
  • The property must not have any unpaid property tax liens, IRS lien, or judgment of any kind
  • The property must have at least one open code violation or have been referred by the Fort Myers CRA.
  • For more information, call the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency at 239-321-7100.
The program is available for homeowners in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. redevelopment area. It has been designed according to the following:
  • The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvds. (MLK & VSSB) redevelopment plan.
  • Florida Statute (FS) 163.50 - CRAs are to eliminate and prevent slum and blight, and encourage community community rehabilitation or conservation in a redevelopment area.
  • FS 163.340 (7) - Defines slum as a predominance of residential buildings that are impaired by dilapidation, deterioration, age, and obsolescence.
  • FS 163.340 (8) - Defines blight as symptoms of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, site deterioration and inadequate.
  • Fort Myers CRA Budget adopted for Fiscal Year 2020-2021.
Fort Myers CRA Supports Local Businesses with Matching Grants

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program is a matching grant for commercial property owners and businesses within Fort Myers commercial redevelopment areas. 

The grant funds should enhance the project’s quality, the overall curb appeal of the property, and, ultimately, the property values along the corridor. This program’s desired outcomes and objectives are to encourage improvements that may not have occurred without the additional grant funds. The maximum potential grant available for a project is 50% of the total project cost, with a maximum award of $25,000 since grant awards will depend on the availability of funds.

The Fort Myers CRA wishes to congratulate our latest recipients of these these matching grants, The Wellington Academy LLC ($15,000 for paint and landscaping) and De Mar Shawn's/DMS Academy Inc. ($5,000 for new signage).
Left Images: Before views of The Wellington Academy. Right Images: After views of The Wellington Academy.
Left Images: Before views of De Mar Shawn's/DMS Academy. Right Images: After views of De Mar Shawn's/DMS Academy.
Top: West End rendering. Bottom: Artist Ya La'ford. (Photo credit: Devin Christopher.)
Streetscape Enhancement to surround
West End at City Walk

The CRA Board of Commissioners has approved a $150,000 Capital Improvement Grant for City Walk Fort Myers LLC, the Developer of West End at City Walk, to add streetscape enhancement to the area surrounding the new West End at City Walk apartment community. Pavers will be added to enrich the look of the area and match with the streetscape surrounding the Publix property across the street. Additionally, work will incorporate lighting and landscaping.
The pavers encompassing City Walk will complement the developer's plan to install sculptures by World-Renowned Artist Ya La'ford in the new apartment community, one of which will be installed at the corner of Altamont Avenue and McGregor Boulevard, and another at Virginia Avenue and McGregor Boulevard. The pavers, lighting and landscape enhancements will create an attractive setting for these sculptures, which are expected to become a destination for tourist and art lovers, and the backdrop for many weddings, proms, and vacation pictures.
CRA Executive Director Recognized for Community Contributions

Fort Myers CRA Executive Director Michele Hylton-Terry was recognized by two community organizations for her impact on Southwest Florida.
The Cape Coral Community Foundation included Ms. Hylton-Terry on their list of Top 20 Generous Leaders of 2021 in Southwest Florida*. "We asked our leaders to share the names of nonprofit leaders who represent and embody the spirit of generosity," stated Michael Chatman, President and CEO of the Cape Coral Foundation. "Generous leaders empower others, share their network and foster a community culture of collaboration."

Ms. Hylton-Terry was also chosen to be a presenter at the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce's Chamber Luncheon: Business Development Panel on February 17. She addressed the Fort Myers CRA's approach to redevelopment, the CRA's programs, and how the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Rebate Program spurs economic development and provides public benefits to the community.

*News-Press, Commentary by Michael Chatman on February 15, 2021
Business Spotlight: Big Cal Soul Food & Event Planning
Big Cal Soul Food & Event Planning, located at the northeast corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Cuba Street (now known as Quality Life Center Way) in the Full Gospel Pentecost Missionary Baptist Church parking lot, is a new business in the Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd. redevelopment area, subarea 2. It is a food truck that serves Southern Home Cooked Food. Big Cal Soul Food also provides event planning services and catering.
New Downtown Outreach Center

On February 10, the Lee County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) opened their 6th Community Outreach Center at 2125 First Street in the Strayhorn building. This new Downtown Outreach Center is one of the ways in which LCSO is "engaging the community at the highest level," according to LCSO Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Business Spotlight:
Community Cooperative's Community Cafe Kitchen
Community Cooperative's Community Cafe Kitchen, at 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., is a legacy business that is part of the Community Cooperative, founded in 1984 located in the Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd. redevelopment area, subarea 2. As part of the Community Cooperative's mission to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County, the Cafe is open Monday to Friday 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to any neighbor in need of a hot meal at no cost. The public may also enjoy a meal through a "give what you have" philosophy.
New Community Redevelopment Specialists

The Fort Myers CRA is excited to announce that Aaron Tate and Renee Turbeville have joined the team as Community Redevelopment Specialists. Their job responsibilities will include various project/program management functions supporting specific CRA activities and incentives, implemented in accordance with area redevelopment plans, to cure or prevent slum and blighted conditions in CRA areas. They each bring with them experiences and knowledge unique to redevelopment and their new roles. Please join us in congratulating and welcoming each of them to the Fort Myers CRA team.
Business Spotlight: Green Cup Cafe
Green Cup Cafe, at 1412 Dean Street, is a new business located in the Downtown redevelopment area. The original Green Cup was in two locations and about to go out of business when purchased and reopened by new owners and downtown residents. Robby Podgorski and Jennifer Carbajal in the middle of the pandemic. Green Cup Cafe is a cozy downtown organic cafe with a mission to offer healthful, sustainable food choices with adventurous flavors and zero guilt, and to bring eco-conscious, contemporary cafe culture to downtown Fort Myers.
FieldEdge Applications Selected for Job Creation & Talent Attraction Program

Congratulations to FieldEdge (legal name dESCO, LLC), a leading vertical SaaS business located in the Downtown redevelopment area, for three new employees who were hired and selected by the Fort Myers CRA to participate in the Job Creation & Talent Attraction Program! Joining FieldEdge are a Customer Success Specialist and two Data Analysts.

The Job Creation and Talent Attraction Program is designed to bring talented, full-time permanent employees like those employed by FieldEdge to our redevelopment areas. The Program meets plan goals designated by the Downtown Redevelopment Plan (page IV, Public Program Implementation/Financial Incentives/Programs) and Florida Statute 163.345 (encouragement of private enterprise).
Business Spotlight: Enjewel Boutique
Enjewel Boutique, at 2266 First Street, is a legacy business located in the Downtown redevelopment area. It was established 19 years ago by Lynne Routhier, who sold the business to new owner Dr. Tim Ferguson in October 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. Dr. Ferguson will continue operating Enjewel Boutique as a family-run store, with his daughter-in-law Amy Bennett acting as the store manager. Enjewel is a unique boutique with great price points and a fun atmosphere. They sell ladies' jewelry, women's fashions, handbags, ladies' hats, and have introduced a new men's line that includes shirts and hats.
Enterprise Center's Entrepreneur School
February 24

Become your own Boss! Southwest Florida Enterprise Center (SWFEC) will show you how to start your own business in their series of 8 Monday night classes beginning February 24. Learn how to develop your idea and start successful small business! These classes will give you nearly $10,000 worth of best practices, education, and mentoring.

Feb. 24, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., $74.20 per person
(Spouse or Business Partner Additional $37.10)
Click on image above for full-size flyer
Community News
Scholarship for Students with B or C GPA

The Rotary Club of Cape Coral Goldcoast is offering a great scholarship opportunity that’s different from most scholarships. There is a lot of money available for high school seniors in the top 10% of their graduating class, but what about students with a “B or C” grade point average? And you should know … the student can attend any college in the United States.
  • Must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 (unweighted) but must not exceed a 3.4 GPA (student must have an average of a “C” or “B” to apply)
  • Accepted to at least one accredited junior college, college, or university
  • Must be a graduating senior of any Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, or Glades County high school, including accredited homeschooled graduating seniors
  • No immediate family may be a member of Rotary
  • Active involvement in the school and community
  • Must be a U.S. citizen

How Much: $4,000 total ($1,000 per year)
Applications Due: March 31, 2021 at 11:45 p.m. EST
CommUNITY Speaks: Advocacy & Activism on February 24

Join in discussions around current Social Justice issues. An expert panel will discuss how to support causes, organize to influence, and build a power base to mobilize communities. Q&A following the panel discussion.

Feb. 24, 6 p.m., No Cost
Meeting ID: 988 3761 6783
Passcode: 208126
Search & Sign 2021: Virtual Job Fair for 12th Grade Students on March 25

On March 25, the School District of Lee County's Career & Technical Education Department is hosting their first virtual job fair for current seniors who plan to go directly into the workforce or are unsure of their future plans after high school graduation.
  • Current 12th grade students will have the opportunity to interview for local jobs via an online platform prior to high school graduation.

  • Optional practice session for employers: March 23, 8 a.m. (to review the online platform and answer questions).

Congratulations to Local Broadcaster Lee Pitts!

Lee Pitts, host of Lee Pitts Live on FOX 4, will be honored for his work for the Fort Myers Community on April 8 on Lee County Honors: Annual Television Broadcast Honoring Humanitarians.

The award show will air at 7:30 p.m. on CTN Television. A number of other local dignitaries will be honored as well.