Public involvement was a key feature in our work to prepare the Gardner’s Park Redevelopment Plan, an urban design and planning project for an area near downtown Fort Myers. We relied heavily on community and stakeholder meetings and input from city staff to craft a vision for the future of the primarily residential neighborhood on the site of an 1800s guava farm.

The community enjoys independence in its identity and privacy, but it understands the importance of overcoming traffic issues to re-establish a physical connection to downtown that will support its revitalization effort. Stakeholders in Gardner’s Park are increasingly interested in protecting their community’s already valuable character, while enhancing opportunities for local merchants to establish prosperous small businesses. Our vision for the Gardner’s Park of the future is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood center, with art, music, and food events for all residents and visitors. This public space will cultivate economic stability and position Gardner’s Park as a destination.

The result is a framework for a safer neighborhood and an opportunity to establish a business corridor with a broader impact. The plan further refines and expands on the city’s mixed-use approach as established through the Downtown Smart Code, and it embraces the urban concept of a walkable public space with tree-lined streets, on-street parking and several small parks and community gardens. The Gardners Park of tomorrow is a beacon that recalls its rich past within the context of a more vibrant future that better serves its residents, visitors and small business owners.