Economic rescue for MLK
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 24, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- It was supposed to help make the area look nice and attract new businesses, but once the new four lane road expansion was completed on Martin Luther King boulevard... it just sat there!
A Fort Myers city program want to hopefully turn things around.
The state, the county and the city have spent millions of dollars expanding, beautifying and installing new utilities along Martin Luther King Boulevard.
It may look pretty, but there isn't any real improvement in attracting new businesses to the area, creating jobs or improving the tax base.
DeCarla Machanic works on MLK and can't understand why nothings changed.
She said "there has to be some changes in the area... in order to bring businesses to the area."
But here's the problem: the state cut into property facing the road, those lots got cut down in size.
Some of those lots are now only 20 feet wide!
For sale signs are up all over the place, but no ones is buying - or building.
Nicole DeVaughn is a city planner.
She explained "you can't build a commercial development, you can't build a building and parking and everything thats required."
So the city is looking to allow potential builders to buy the residential lots directly behind the commercial property along the road, allowing them to deepen the lot.
This makes the lot buildable.
Right now, you have to go through a special permitting process and public hearings.
It can take take months, even up to a year.
Its a problem that has scared off developers.
DeVaughn says "were streamlining our whole process to facilitate future development."
Bottom line, elected leaders like Fort Myers Councilman Levon Simms, see it as way to make central Fort Myers open for business.
Simms says "I think it will have a tremendous economic impact. because what it will do is be inviting for businesses."
The city hopes to put the final proposal to the city council for a vote within six months.