All photography provided by the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency
Established in 1984 to combat deteriorating conditions in the commercial core of downtown, the CRA expanded during the 2000's to expand it's work in other areas of the city. This included the MLK Corridor and later Dunbar/Michigan.
WHAT IS REDEVELOPMENT?
Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA's): areas authorized under Florida law, Chapter 163, Part III that have conditions of significant need which may include, but not limited to: substandard or inadequate structures, shortage of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways and pedestrian safe routes, and inadequate parking. CRA's are not overseen by the state and are designed as a tool for local communities. CRA's work within the existing property property taxes, therefore there is no additional cost to a community.
Community Redevelopment Agency: agencies that implement the redevelopment plan as required by Florida law to make public investment within the redevelopment area.
Community Redevelopment Plan: the Plan addresses the unique needs of the redevelopment area. It includes overall goals for redevelopment, as well as the types of projects that are planned for it.
Tax Increment Financing: the tool that is used to fund redevelopment efforts and leverages public funds to promote private sector activity in the redevelopment area. When a CRA is created, a base year value is established. Property owners continue to pay property tax without change. As property values increase due to natural property rises and as a result of redevelopment activities, the difference between the base year value and current year value portion of taxes paid go directly to the CRA. Those dollars then get spent by the CRA to implement the plan. See example.
1. An area is identified with specific conditions that have significant need.
2. A Redevelopment Area (Area) is created following a Finding of Necessity, supported by the local governing body, and is legally adopted in accordance with Florida statute.
3. A Redevelopment Plan (Plan) is required to accompany the Redevelopment Area.
4. The first year or year the Area is created is the “base year”.
5. Property owners continue to pay property taxes as they typically would, and those taxes continue to fluctuate based on market values.
6. As years pass, the city and county transfers any additional tax revenue from the current year value above that of the base year to the CRA, which is called Tax Increment Funding (TIF).
7. TIF is used to implement the Plan.
8. TIF can only be used on elements included within the Plan and costs associated with implementing them.
9. CRA’s have the ability to borrow funds, pursue grants, raise additional revenues, create partnerships, and other activities, provided it helps to advance the Plan.
10. CRA’s cannot pay for core level services provided by the local government. CRA’s can only pay for an “enhanced” level of service.
11. CRA’s cannot spend dollars outside of the area which generated TIF.
12. CRA’s generally operate with a distinct staff and always report to a CRA Board of Commissioners that is a separate political body from the city or county that created it.
Our past work
Over the more than 15 years the CRA and City have worked to help improve conditions within the MLK and Dunbar/Michigan areas of Fort Myers. It's been a long process, and there is much work yet to be done. To fully understand the road ahead, we also need to understand what has been done, and the steps that have been taken to enable the CRA and City to focus efforts with the MLK and Dunbar/Michigan areas.
In summary, this work has included creating the MLK Redevelopment Area, annexing what had been known as "Belle Vue" and "Dunbar" from unincorporated Lee County that was within what we refer to the overall Dunbar/Michigan area, creating the MLK/VSS Revitalization Plan, creating the Dunbar/Michigan Redevelopment Area. All of these steps were necessary to legally enable the CRA and City to expend public funds within these areas.