Kickoff set for station renovation, new Community Foundation headquarters
Renovation of the downtown Fort Myers Atlantic Coast Railway station and construction of an addition for a new Southwest Florida Community Foundation headquarters will be kicked off during an event from 8-10 a.m. Thursday, April 27. It’s free and open to the public.
The event will celebrate the public-private partnership of the Community Foundation and the city of Fort Myers and mark the beginning of the transformation of the station and construction of a 10,000-square-foot LEED addition to create a campus that includes the foundation’s regional headquarters and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants. The station is at 2031 Jackson Street.
The foundation is funding the project with a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal, or NMTC, a program that encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods. Florida Community Loan Fund provided the NMTC allocation and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is an investor on the project. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.
The city’s Midtown redevelopment plan covers the areas south of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, north of Edison Avenue, east of U.S. 41 and west of Fowler Street. Part of this plan also includes 15 blocks of upgraded utilities and $2.5 million of streetscaping.
Parker Mudgett Smith Architects and OAK Construction Co. are leading the project’s renovation and construction. The project is focused on preserving historical features of the property and railway station.
When complete in the summer 2018, the “Collaboratory” will feature vibrant spaces for work, gatherings and special events. In addition, plans include state-of-the-art technology that encourages regional collaboration.
“We are excited to share this celebration with Southwest Florida because the building is designed with the community in mind,” said Sarah Owen, foundation president and CEO.
During the event, a brief program will begin at 8:30 a.m. featuring comments from the leadership of the foundation, the city of Fort Myers and a representative of the Florida Community Loan Fund.
To attend, reservations are requested by calling 274-5900 or emailing RSVP@floridacommunity.com. Parking is available in the city parking garages, in city metered spaces or through valet parking.
The Atlantic Coast Line railway station was presented to the city on Feb. 4, 1924, the same year Fort Myers was poised to join the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s.
In the face of shrinking revenues, the Seaboard Coast Line (which had merged with ACL) sold its track and discontinued all passenger service into Fort Myers and closed the station in 1971. After sitting empty for a decade, the Southwest Florida Museum of History opened on the site in 1982. In 2015, the museum merged with the Imaginarium Science Center and recently moved physically to the Imaginarium’s site on Cranford Avenue.
The foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, it invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception.
Currently, the foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. ¦