A star attraction
Fort Myers, Fla., has wrapped production on its four-year, 52-block downtown utility infrastructure and streetscape reconstruction project. The city’s downtown underground utilities — water, sewer and drainage — were 70 to 80 years old, and malfunctions were common. Meanwhile, the city’s streets and sidewalks were ready for a makeover that had been recommended in a 2003 redevelopment plan created by town planner Andreas Duany.
Fort Myers contracted with the local division of Naples, Fla.-based Kraft Construction to serve as the construction manager on the $56 million project. The cost was split by the city’s public works department, which paid to tear everything up, and the downtown redevelopment agency, which paid for all of the brick streets and sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and street furniture.
Since completion in December, retail business and offices have shown renewed interest in locating in the downtown core, and the results are drawing outside attention, as well. “I received a call from Wrangler Jeans company,” says Don Paight, executive director of the Fort Myers Downtown Redevelopment Agency. “They’ve been scouting locations to do some of their catalogs and commercials, and absolutely fell in love with downtown Fort Myers. They said it was like a Hollywood stage set. They sent a crew down here and spent four days in front of the businesses, along the brick streets, down along the waterfront. We’re hoping to attract more of that type of activity.”
Florida Power & Light also used the project as an opportunity to run underground conduit for a future project that will replace pole-strung power lines with underground lines.
The finished product is attracting attention from residents and businesses, and even production companies looking for settings to film commercials.