Southward Village to undergo transformation, housing authority to move residents

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Southward Village is set to undergo restoration, prompting the relocation of residents. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers will be used to revitalize the Dunbar neighborhood.

Dunbar is an area rich in history and culture but in need of restoration and resources.

The grant will help fund the Greater Dunbar Initiative, a plan of transformation for the Dunbar neighborhood, according to a news release from the Housing Authority.

The plan seeks to transform the Southward Village public housing community, off of Edison Avenue, into a mixed-income community which will include improving existing affordable housing units while creating market-rate apartments, too.

The next step is to relocate the people who now live in Southward Village to temporary housing while the community undergoes restoration.

Plans also include construction of a new grocery store, revitalization of the Farmer’s Market and added retail and dining opportunities.

The announcement is welcomed by Yarica Rodrigues, a recent arrival to the Southward Village public housing community.

“People when you’re going to move, they say a lot of stuff about this place,” Rodrigues said.

The first order for the Housing Authority is to fix up all 199 affordable housing units in Southward Village.

“That’s great because my apartment is going to look more better and I know that people are gonna like it,” Rodrigues said.

For Charite Esterlin, the most exciting part of the plan is a grocery store planned in the heart of her community.

Esterlin has lived in her Southward Village home for 20 years and is looking forward to more independence.

“You know now that I’m legally blind I can’t go anywhere,” Esterlin said. “If I have a store over there, I’ll be so happy for that.”

Rodrigues, too, is excited for a grocery store close to home.

“Now I can be walking out I don’t have to go to the car and then go to the grocery, it has to be better,” Rodrigues said.

The Housing Authority said this grant is just the first step in bringing Dunbar back.


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