I included the most urban portion of Ft. Myers Beach from the northern tip, southwards to Connecticut Avenue. This evaluation occurred after Hurricane Ian severely damaged the City. My approach to the evaluation is to assume the City will be rebuilt in more or less the urban form it was in pre-hurricane. Given Florida’s rapid post hurricane recovery this seems to be largely accurate although many of the low lying single family homes will likely be replaced with larger/more expensive single family homes on stilts or large apartment bldgs more resilient to hurricanes.
Present day Ft. Myers Beach was first settled by people of European decent in the mid 1700s by Cuban fishermen. The Homestead Act of 1862 brought American settlements to Estero Island. The island remained sparsely populated until 1911 when developer William Case built the first subdivision and cottage rental industry. Development on Ft. Myers Beach (then called Crescent Beach) was slow until the 1920s as Florida gained national attention as a vacation destination. The land boom ended with the hurricanes of 1921 and 1926 that challenged the paradise appeal of southwest Florida. But development slowly increased and by the 1950s, Crescent Beach began to boom and modernize. By 1960 Crescent Beach hosted 2,500 residents and its population peaked at 9,000 in 1990. Crescent City officially changed its name to Ft. Myers Beach in 1995 Since then the City has actually lost full-time residents shifting to snowbirds and tourist. The City now hosts just under 6,000 souls.
Old San Carlos is the main commercial street, which hosts decent urban form and walkability but still plenty of surface parking lots along it. Estero is the main beachside Thorofare through Ft. Myers and is most urban where it intersects with Old San Carlos and here is a block long pedestrian street a block from the beachfront. The further south down Estero the urban fabric becomes less and less urban and mixed-use but still hosts sidewalks, ADA curbs, and some restaurants bars sprinkled in.
Click here to view my Ft. Myers Beach album on Flickr.
* Decent grid but lots of dead end streets due to the skinny nature of the island and also plenty of cul-de-sacs.
* Dedicated bike path along most of Estero Blvd provide a good bike connection to post of Ft. Myers Beach included in this evaluation.
* Lots for sale product available including plenty of 1-bed condos that range anywhere from 200K-850K. Wide range of prices of 2-beds starting at 200K to 2 M with some product even more expensive. 3 & 4 beds sell anywhere between 400K- around 3 M with some mansions costing even more.
* Quality park space including a public Beach running along the entire Gulf coast, an expansive nature preserve, the quality Bodwitch point park at the top of the island, and an expansive ballfield park.
* Decent cultural amenities including lots of bars & restaurants, a couple cafes, night clubs, a local theater, a couple art galleries, lots of places that host live music, and a local art center.
* Ok retail amenities. The supermarket is several blocks south of this evaluation area, plenty of gift shops, souvenir stores, and boutiques. Also a couple banks, lots of dessert joints, a couple gyms, a local public library & post office, and a couple churches.
* A very safe community.
* Decent street scaping.
* Good tree canopy but this has been significantly reduced since Hurricane Ian.
* Very low density for an urban area.
* Pretty poor public transit access.
* ADA curbs and sidewalks really along exist along Old San Carlos and Estero Blvd. Side streets generally don’t have sidewalks.
* Poor diversity ratings across all measures. This is a very white, elderly (median age is 68), and generous prosperous community.
* Only one school in Ft. Myers beach, a well rated elementary school of only 100 students.
* 30 minute drive to dwtn Ft. Myers and no viable public transit option. Important to keep in mind that there are a lot of service industry jobs in Ft. Myers Beach.
* Very limited rental product and what does exist is mostly 2 & 3 bedrooms.
* Missing a lot of retail amenities including a drug store,.
* Historic architecture is limited especially after Hurricane Ian. Modern architecture isn’t very impressive either. Generally cheap with semi-urban design.
* Plenty of surface parking lots and strip malls.