Published: Apr 01, 2011 3:38 AM EDT
Updated: Apr 01, 2011 12:39 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - If you've driven down Second Street in Fort Myers recently, you probably noticed some changes. New businesses and renovations are breathing new life into a once overlooked neighborhood.

David Eastman moved into this century-old home a year and a half ago. Since then, he's put his tool box to good use. "I knew it needed some work, but just staying here for the past year and a half, I've seen a lot of improvement," Eastman said.
He's not only talking about his home, but his Second Street neighborhood. Greenleaf Day Spa opened in 2009, and since then, business has taken off.

"A lot of people were like, huh, why would they put that there?" Greenleaf owner Barbara Dukes said, "but I put my business here because it's different and downtown is very different. It's been great."

A few steps away is the soon-to-be Wisteria Tea Room. Owner Philip Schwartz purchased the property right before the real estate market collapse. After saving pennies, he and his wife are ready to open in June.

"People are not afraid now to invest their money. That's the big thing," Schwartz said. "If people aren't afraid, they'll invest and they have no problems."

One of the most noticeable changes is the $200,000 renovation of the Second Street apartments. Only two weeks since construction was completed, the once-vacant buildings are on the way to being half-occupied.
"All of the sudden you see paint coming on in different places, historic homes being remodeled, people venturing out and stepping out of the box and doing something different here on Second Street, and I continue to see that hopefully happening all the way down," Tammy Schreier, Director of Operations of Meta Group said.
Councilman Michael Flanders said this area is experiencing big improvements from the opening of the Butterfly Estates to plans to build a $20 million dollar library. All of these things, he believes, should continue attracting businesses to Second Street and downtown.