Say hello to tomorrow

Say hello to tomorrow

To a large extent, the future of Fort Myers begins on Sunday, Oct. 21.

That’s the date of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Party in the Park, which will serve as the public’s introduction to the Collaboratory, the foundation’s new headquarters and a place for incubation and connection that draws upon the city’s history of innovation.

EnSite owner Jonathan Romine had the privilege to deliver foundation CEO Sarah Owen with a certificate of occupancy on Sept. 27, signifying the Collaboratory is ready to open its doors. It was the culmination of a tremendous effort by EnSite and all of our community partners to get this one-of-a-kind project ready, but in many ways, this is just the start.

The vision for the Collaboratory is to bring together big thinkers and dreamers as part of the city’s broader effort to establish midtown as an area of civic and economic revitalization. The Collaboratory is open to the public and offers space equipped with cutting-edge technology for businesses, higher education, community events and more, all at below-market prices facilitated in part by a $10 million federal New Market Tax Credit and the Florida Community Loan Fund.

It is a space full of possibility and the spirit of innovation, much as Fort Myers was in the days of Edison, Ford and Firestone. The Collaboratory is a link to the city’s past as much as a representation of its future. The site housed an Atlantic Coast Line railway station from the 1920s to the 1970s, and more recently, it was home to the Southwest Florida Museum of History.

It’s also a LEED Gold Certified development with a Florida-friendly plant palette, a low-volume irrigation design system, recreated wetlands in the form of rain gardens, and permeable pavers. Artistic structures called solar trees line the property, catching sunrays to deliver clean, emissions-free energy and provide shade. A new, 10,000-square-foot addition sits behind the renovated original building with its idyllic old-Spanish mission design.

EnSite is proud of what we’ve put into the Collaboratory, but we’re even more proud of what will come out of it. The party runs from 1-4 p.m. at Bennett-Hart Park in front of the Collaboratory. Join us and celebrate the possibilities!

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