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DEMOLISHED: Southward Village turns into 466 mixed income homes

Historic Fort Myers neighborhood undergoes construction
Posted at 1:44 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 14:30:06-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Southward Village has been part of the Fort Myers community since 1960. The 37-acre site has 199 units. The Fort Myers Housing Authority secured a $30 million federal grant, turning Southward Village into a mixed income community. This development is a part of the Greater Dunbar Initiative.

Rendering of homes to be built

“In 2019 we were contemplating [this project] because this is the oldest public housing that we own and manage," said Marcia Davis, Executive Director of the Fort Myers Housing Authority.

The city decided applied for the CNI (Choice Neighborhood Implementation) grant. Five are awarded to projects with a detailed execution plan each year.

"Everything in my life happened in Southward Village," said Councilwoman Terolyn Watson of Ward 3.

She says it's emotional watching her childhood neighborhood change, but believes this access to affordable housing is something the city needs.

"Growing up here, people were very family oriented. I had a lot of good times out here," she said.

Sandra Seals is the Senior Vice President with McCormack Baron Salazar, the company in charge of design.

She says five acres will be reserved for a neighborhood market and commercial space.

“When completed this is going to be a total of 466 mixed income, mixed bedroom size, apartments and town-homes," Seals said.

Fox 4 asked Councilwoman Watson where the people who lived here went. She says they were not displaced. The city granted housing vouchers for them to live elsewhere temporarily.

Once the development is done, they can come back, if they choose. She says those residents were able to help decide what the new homes will look like.

“I was a part of that, and I was a part of that from the beginning, and I’m going to make sure it’s done right until the end," Watson said.