FORT MYERS — A $362 million initiative to revitalize and transform a portion of the Dunbar community, east of downtown Fort Myers, has received a $30 million federal grant.
The Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers and the City of Fort Myers recently announced the grant, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The project, the Greater Dunbar Initiative, is a comprehensive transformation plan for the large-scale revitalization of the 37-acre, 199-unit Southward Village into a mixed-income community, according to a statement. The project, adds statement, “improves existing affordable housing units for residents while expanding choices, creating market-rate amenities, and adding new mixed-income housing to create a resilient and healthy neighborhood moving forward.
Some 50 community leaders, residents and local stakeholders joined housing authority and city officials in participating in HUD’s grant selection process, which included a virtual site visit in April. The Greater Dunbar Initiative was selected as one of five initiatives nationwide, and the only in Florida, to receive the grant, which is through HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant program.
“This initiative is a prime example of the shared vision we have to move our city forward in an equitable manner,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson says in the statement. “The City of Fort Myers and the Housing Authority partnered with numerous community agencies to compete for this grant, and we proved that when we work together, we can achieve great things. I am thankful we can now include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development among the growing alliance of partners to revitalize this Dunbar neighborhood.”
The plan includes 375 new mixed-income apartments, supported with new infrastructure and complemented with amenities. 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.