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Fort Myers City Council waives permit fees for Dunbar affordable housing project

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Posted at 4:41 PM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-06 20:47:23-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The developer of a large-scale affordable housing project is getting some relief from the City of Fort Myers. On Monday night, City Council voted to waive permit fees for the project.

With some fees waived, it'll make it cheaper for the developer to build 465 units for families in the Dunbar neighborhood. The project is called the Greater Dunbar Initiative.

"It is the core of the City and over the years, it’s seen investments kinda go down," said Steven Belden, the city's community development director. "As a result of investment kinda going down you see the conditions of the corridor kinda start to deteriorate a little bit."

They want to see more investments in the area, with the hope this project will do that. The 465-units will house mixed income families. A lot off of Cleveland Avenue will house 90 families in four, three-story buildings.

"It provides affordable housing and it also will revitalize part of Cleveland Avenue as well," Belden said.

The building will also be new homes for some people in the Southward Village neighborhood, which was built in 1963. The 199-unit area will eventually be torn down and rebuilt, Belden said.

For the Greater Dunbar Initiative, a $30 million federal grant will pay for a good portion of it with more cash coming from the City of Fort Myers.

The permit fees were waived by City Council — $267,426. Councilwoman Bonk was the only member against it. Fox 4 reached out for comment and have not heard back.

Impact fees, a little more than $600,000, were also waived, though Belden said it does not need Ctiy Council approval because of an "interlocal agreement" between Lee County and the City.

Belden says Fort Myers has also pitched in another $2 million for the project, which also comes from the budget.

"The project is important to this City," Belden said. "As I mentioned, affordable housing is such a huge issue in Fort Myers."

Belden believes this project, which will be done in four phases, will lift up this area of Fort Myers. It's going to take some time, though. The first phase isn't expected to break ground for another few weeks. This part of the project could take up to two years.

"The cost of development has increased significantly over the last year or two, so we’re doing what we can do to help," Belden said.

To learn more about the Greater Dunbar Initiative, click here.