Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 3:14 PM, Apr 19, 2023
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thousands of drivers zoom past the four-story development on Fowler Street in downtown Fort Myers, heading south on the one-way road.
It’s easy to not notice the different in just ten months.
In summer 2022, crews had fenced off the area to start building the four-story, 274-unit First Street Apartments, designed by Zimmer Development, based in Wilmington, North Carolina. Now it’s about halfway through the process.
“I can actually look out my window and see it, watching it come up,” said Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson. “I think, ‘wow’, we’ve taken this big, empty piece of land that was not paying any taxes, by the way, and now we have a great complex going in.”
The land, where the former home of the First United Methodist Church stood for decades, could also serve as a gateway to the east end of downtown. The First Street Apartments are across the street from the public library and just steps from the downtown nightlife and shops.
“As most people know, we have a serious housing problem, not just in Fort Myers but, everywhere,” said Anderson. “We happen to have a high demand because of all of the people moving here and the low supply. So, the more we can do to increase that supply, hopefully, will cause the pricing for rental units and homes to level off and stabilize.”
This comes at a time where downtown Fort Myers is seeing more a focus after Hurricane Ian recovery. Most of the downtown businesses are back open as open parts in the region, such as Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, lost businesses from the storm.
The question of housing that is affordable is a constant concern. We looked for two-bedroom, two-bath units with about 1,000 square feet in downtown Fort Myers in some of the newer or renovated facilities.
What we found for rent, searching on apartments.com:
Edison Grand: $2,275 for 933 sq. feet
Triton Cay: up to $2,750 for 1,364 sq. feet
West End at City Walk: up to $3,194 to 1,038 sq. feet
More of the walkable amenities are already in place on the western edge of downtown, such as a Publix and a First Watch across from West End at City Walk. Anderson hopes the First Street Apartments will lead to more development and more options that are easy to reach on the eastern edge of downtown.
“We’ve got three hotels coming over nearby (First Street Apartments) but it’s also going to cause that section of Fowler Street, south of Second Street, to start to come alive,” said Anderson. “it’s very possible that, within a mile of that project, we could see a grocery store.”
Other buildings are also coming up, such as the Irving Downtown apartment complex, about 100-units promising “pet-friendly” and “eco-friendly” living with an estimated start date of construction at May 31 and an opening projection of the end of 2025.
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