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Urban transformation project seeks $30 million federal grant

The Greater Dunbar Initiative is one of five finalists.

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  • | 11:06 a.m. April 1, 2021
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FORT MYERS — A $362 million initiative to revitalize and transform a portion of the Dunbar community, east of downtown Fort Myers, is a finalist for a $30 million federal grant.    

The proposed project, from the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers, is one of five finalists for a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Land Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant program, according to a statement.

The project, known as the Greater Dunbar Initiative, is a comprehensive transformation plan for the large-scale revitalization of the 37-acre, 199-unit Southward Village, according to a statement. Plans include building a mixed-income community, which will replace existing affordable housing units for residents while expanding choices, creating market-rate amenities and adding new mixed-income housing. “The goal is to replace housing for existing residents and attract new residents in a way that helps create a catalyst for reinvestment and improvements within the larger Dunbar neighborhood,” the release states.

The Greater Dunbar Initiative was selected out of 20 project applicants to be among the five finalists. HUD will conduct a virtual site visit with finalists in the coming weeks and the grant will be awarded soon after.

“We are thrilled to be among the finalists being considered for this influential grant,” Marcia Davis, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers, says in the statement. “The greater Dunbar community is rich in history, surrounds key growth corridors for Fort Myers and acts as a gateway into downtown Fort Myers, providing new opportunity for Dunbar residents and this region as a whole.”

The transformed site will include 375 new mixed-income apartments, supported with new infrastructure and complemented with amenities, including a clubhouse, a fitness room, a business center, pocket parks, playgrounds and on-site management offices.

In addition to improved housing, The Greater Dunbar Initiative will increase access to services like education, employment and health care, the release states. The plan also includes construction of a new grocery store, revitalization of the Farmer’s Market and added retail, dining and entertainment to increase the economic opportunity through healthy lifestyles. Lastly, the transformation, say housing officials in the statement, will enhance connectivity and visibility through targeted investments along Edison Avenue, Veronica Shoemaker Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.



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