In its first project using a construction manager, Fort Myers upgraded all utilities, public and private, beneath 52 blocks and completely streetscaped the area.

Street demolition was done as part of utility replacement, reducing streetscaping costs. Public works held down costs further by allowing Kraft Construction Co. Inc. of Naples to award contracts over several years. The department selected the company's Fort Myers office for the first phase of construction and awarded the three subsequent phases to the firm.

“We wanted to make sure everybody knew the project's entire scope so they didn't inflate their costs,” says Public Works Director Saeed Kazemi.

The strategy worked: When the first phase went to bid in 2005, Florida — like the rest of the nation — was struggling to keep pace with growth. But when the final 21 blocks began construction in January 2008, material and labor prices had fallen along with the national economy.