On Monday, January 31, 2022, the City of Fort Myers passed a resolution granting a legacy strip of downtown land measuring just five inches wide and 38 feet long to Alzada, developer of The Irving Downtown on an adjacent site.
In exchange, Alzada will make enhancements to the adjacent City Garden of Palms, also known as Park of Palms, located to the north of the Irving site, both of which are situated within the larger historic property that once belonged to the Vivas, one of Fort Myers first founding families. Alzada will be partnering with the Naples Botanical Garden, the City of Fort Myers, and many local organizations to renovate the park.
A Vivas lived on the property from 1866 to 1959, and several Vivas family descendants signed off on the resolution, including James Vivas Pridgen Jr., great-great-grandson of Joseph and Anna Vivas, the first generation of the family in Fort Myers. Alzada will also be creating a documentary about the Vivas Family and the history of Downtown Fort Myers
“It’s 72 years ago, almost to the day, that my great-great aunt Leonora Vivas made an agreement with the City of Fort Myers protecting this five-inch strip,” Pridgen said. “I’m happy with the outcome, and I’m looking forward to seeing this whole historic piece of land transform for the better, especially the park – we just want to make sure it’s taken care of and will remain for the enjoyment of locals and visitors for generations to come.”
Pridgen’s great-great-aunts also gifted the Garden of Palms to the City, and it was dedicated by the local garden club in 1955.
“We are so grateful to the Vivas heirs and the City of Fort Myers, and we’re happy that everything worked out,” said Alzada President, Rebekah Barney. “Our team is excited to work with Jim [Pridgen] and different organizations in honoring the Vivas Family and their history here in Downtown Fort Myers.”
The Irving will commemorate the Vivas Family in smaller ways too, including naming floor plans after different family members and designating one of the street-level parking garage entrances with “Vivas Court,” a nod to the historic Vivas subdivision, including the ‘five-inch strip.’”
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