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FORT MYERS | $360M to end food desert and create better housing in Dunbar

Posted at 8:00 PM, Sep 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-13 20:05:20-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In what will be a major shift for a large section of Fort Myers, The Greater Dunbar Initiative is working to bring a new apartment complex, grocery store and elementary school.

Fox 4's Briana Brownlee spoke with Fort Myers Housing Authority Director Marcia Davis, who said this is the biggest project they are working through.

$360 million is expected to be invested in the project and the planning started back in 2019.

"It’s not only about housing, it’s about people in neighborhoods," Davis said. “One thing we are trying to do is make sure health is a huge part of this"

Davis added that it's important to offer more food options in the Dunbar community and the neighborhoods need to be more walkable.

“It is a food desert, that’s the term," Davis said. "They need more resources, not just the convenience store type of resources, but healthy food.”


The redevelopment of Southward Village is the start of the project. Southward Village is the oldest public housing in the City of Fort Myers. Once the building is demolished a 324-unit complex will be built for people of all economic means.

Units will include "affordable housing" and market rate.

“When I say that, it gets kinda scary for folks, right? But not the two or three-thousand market rate," Davis said. "It means a family that may make a dollar over the income restrictions could potentially live there.”

A big question may be, "What about the people currently living there?"

Davis said the housing authority is still working to relocate all of the residents, however, Hurricane Ian didn't help the situation and the tight housing market is a hurdle as well.

Once all residents are placed in a different complex, the demolition of Southward Village will begin.

Davis said Fall 2024 is when the building could start to go up.