Published: Oct 26, 2010 4:52 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 26, 2010 1:52 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fort Myers Downtown Utility Replacement and Streetscape Improvements Project, created through a partnership between the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency (FMRA) and the City of Fort Myers Public Works, received the 2010 Roy F. Kenzie Award for Best Capital Projects/Beautification on October 14, 2010, in Orlando, Florida.

Key to the success of the Streetscape entry was the 54-block scope of 4-year renovation-believed to be one of the largest projects of its kind in the United States-as well as the varied support and close communication efforts of the FMRA to keep the busy city thriving in the midst of large sections being torn up for months at a time.

In addition to the practical aspects of construction, the symbiotic nature of the partnership between the City of Fort Myers Public Works and the FMRA created a significant financial savings of millions of dollars for both entities. Streets were dug up only once to perform both the necessary underground utility updates to the century-old water, sewer and storm drain systems performed by the City, while the FMRA implemented streetscape recommendations mandated by the downtown redevelopment plan. The utility replacement's street demolition and removal eliminated that aspect of funding for the FMRA, while the City saved money when the redevelopment's tax increment dollars and grants paid for the beautiful surface work once the underground work was finished.

"The Redevelopment Agency is extremely pleased to be the recipient of this prestigious award from the Florida Redevelopment Association," stated Don Paight, Executive Director of the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency. "The downtown streets have become a wonderful setting for monthly events such as Art Walk and Music Walk."

Project partners to the public sector were Cella Molnar & Associates, DRMP, Inc., Kraft Construction, and TKW Consulting Engineers.

Visitors to the downtown River District are witness to how the project maintained the historic integrity of the area while supporting a green initiative. Citizens championed the reuse of half a million original historic bricks found underneath the old asphalt. In addition, the FMRA, City and project partners carefully retrofit Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements in the nationally-designated historic area in the core of Fort Myers.

Fort Myers' Downtown Utility Replacement and Streetscape Improvements project was one of 12 redevelopment projects throughout the state recognized by the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) in 2010, the second year in a row that the FMRA has won the redevelopment award. The FMRA was previously honored with the 2009 Roy F. Kenzie Award for Outstanding New Building Project for the Fort Myers River District Publix Grocery Store, an innovative market built along the McGregor Boulevard historic highway.

All 12 winners were honored during the 2010 FRA Annual Conference awards dinner held at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando. Each year, FRA honors redevelopment leaders throughout the state for implementing outstanding economic growth projects and programs in Florida.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to recognize the award recipients at this year's annual conference for their brilliant ideas, creative solutions and relentless dedication to improving growth and revitalization in their communities," said Rochelle Lawandales, outgoing FRA president and Rockledge CRA director.

Founded in 1974, the FRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting Florida professionals and volunteers in community revitalization efforts. With its mission of "transforming spaces, revitalizing places," FRA is committed to providing a forum for its more than 300 members to share knowledge and common experiences regarding revitalization opportunities and issues. FRA encourages adoption of legal and financial tools and programs favorable to community growth and serves as a statewide clearinghouse for redevelopment information.

For more information about the awards program or the Florida Redevelopment Association, contact Carol Westmoreland, executive director, at (850) 701-3608 or visit www.redevelopment.net.

The Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency was created in 1984 by the City of Fort Myers Florida to formulate a plan and strategy for the revitalization of the River District. The FMRA has continued to grow and redevelopment districts have been added throughout the city. Now, Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency oversees 14 different redevelopment districts within the Fort Myers city limits. The Fort Myers mayor and City Council members, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, oversee the FMRA and its operations. The FMRA office is located at 1400 Jackson St. in the River District.