The City of Fort Myers created the Downtown Redevelopment Agency (DRA) in 1984 to combat the deteriorating conditions within the downtown commercial area. Originally established as an Independent Special District, the City Council appointed itself the governing body of the City's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), under the auspices of Florida Statute Chapter 163, in 1988 and the DRA then became a division of the CRA. Currently, the City Council, along with the Mayor, serves as the Community Redevelopment Agency Board.
The Fort Myers River District is a TIF district. Tax increment financing (TIF) is a unique tool that allows municipalities to promote economic development by earmarking property tax revenue from increases in assessed values within a designated TIF district. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity. Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes outlined in the statute, and not for general government purposes. The CRA is the governing body which oversees the usage of these funds for the areas improvements.
The role of the DRA was expanded in the early 2000's to manage the City's twelve other redevelopment districts. As a result, the name was changed to the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency (FMRA) to better reflect redevelopment efforts throughout the City. The FMRA currently oversees fifteen redevelopment districts within the City limits.