A team of real estate consultants plan to create an action plan for a new look in Fort Myers’ Midtown neighborhood. The team leader toured on Monday and Tuesday and set the stage for a longer visit in December with a full team of real estate and community building professionals.
The CRE will work with the Collaboratory, formerly known as the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to create an action plan for new uses for the vacant former home Fort Myers News Press Newspaper at 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. and City of Palms Park, the former home of the Boston Red Sox in spring. You will also explore other aspects of Midtown and Fort Myers. Both properties are owned by the City of Fort Myers.
The Collaboratory funds the expenses of the CRE team.
Cassandra Francis, based in Chicago providing strategic consulting services in urban planning, real estate and construction, leads the team of five at CRE, which, like the Collaboratory, is a non-profit organization.
The CRE has 1,000 members from 21 countries. They take on projects after receiving and reviewing applications. Some of their projects have been high profile, such as B. the resolution of a dispute between the developer of the World Trade Center and its insurers after September 11, 2001; Creation of a 10-year, multi-billion dollar master plan for the Philadelphia Public Schools; and revitalization of the public railway system in Poland.
“We’re very excited to come down,” Francis said. “We’re really just getting started. One of the most important things on this trip is to get the state of the country and talk to as many stakeholders as possible. Most of the information will be gathered when our entire team comes down in December.”
Other team members include Brett Pelletier, COO of Kirk & Company Real Estate Counsel in Boston; Courtney Pogue, Director of Economic and Community Development in Nashville, Tennessee; Stephen Romine, corporate attorney in Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Elaine Worzala, professor of real estate at Clemson University.
“We have people involved in urban regeneration, mixed-use affordable housing, parks and recreation, and high street development,” Francis said. “Lots of great, broad backgrounds.”
“This is just a first trip. Our aim is to get in touch with everyone involved as far as we can. We want to consider all the different drivers to make sure this is a success.”
Francis is shifting her focus to Fort Myers after working with Native American tribes in Oregon City, Oregon, on a rehabilitation project for the past few months.
Samantha DeKoven, CRE director of public service initiatives, also traveled to Fort Myers.
“Members volunteer their time to build their team,” DeKoven said. “We put together between four and six members. You go on-site to address a real estate problem on behalf of a government or non-profit organization. It’s a company that needs the real estate advisory services and probably doesn’t have the resources to hire the level of expertise that these people would provide.”
“The project must be worth assembling a team of high-level real estate professionals. So that they sacrifice their time. They not only go on site for a week, but also do a lot of homework in advance. You meet and talk to many experts. Part of the commitment of this process is that the group be completely objective, unbiased, outsider, and free of conflicts of interest. No involvement in what might come out. This group makes their expertise available.”