CREATED May. 1, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Some new and improved housing is coming to Ft. Myers.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and city leaders will break ground at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on the massive construction project that will house hundreds of families.
A school bus runs alongside the old Sabal Palm apartments, where weeds grow almost as tall as kids in some spots of this neighborhood, tucked back off MLK.
"It's like a ghost town," life-long neighborhood resident Maryann Bowman said. "At night it's dreary and early in the morning, you never know if someone's back there or not."
Bowman lives near the shuttered complex. Junked pieces of furniture and rolled up carpets sit in piles outside where graffiti stains the walls.
"I zoom out of here in the morning," Bowman said.
She's not sure if the quiet is better than the chaos before. She says the people who lived there were relocated this winter to other parts of the county.
"A lot of problems with the people in apartments," she said. "A lot of fighting with the younger kids."
She and other neighbors are excited about the construction that will gut and rehab the old orange units and knock down and rebuild the Palmetto Courts across the street. It will be a public/private partnership. When it's done, 212 new affordable housing units will stand in their place.
"I can't wait to see it," Kateria Owens said.
Owens walks by the closed complex early in the morning after she gets done working overnights at a nearby fast food restaurant. Her mother lives in a home in the area and watches her baby while she's working.
"I'd like to see better apartments and a pretty playground for the kids," she said. "Just (a facility) that's better for the kids and family."
The people who were relocated with assistance will have the option of moving back in when the work's done.
Colleen Hogan, reporter