It’s difficult to talk about Fifth Avenue South without using Phil McCabe’s name.
The 58-year-old high-profile businessman has made his mark in the downtown area owning several retail shops, office buildings, The Inn on Fifth and McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill.
Having racked up one success after another during his 21 years developing downtown and North Naples, McCabe is now turning his attention to long-forgotten lands just east of his posse of prized properties in the formerly blighted East Naples community.
“I have watched East Naples for 20 years, and have invested in East Naples for that length of time,” McCabe said.
I saw “the growth in East Naples was being reversed, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
As a member of the Bayshore/Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, or CRAAB, and an East Naples landowner, community leaders say McCabe has become a pioneer there, sparking other developers to follow suit and play a role in the area’s rejuvenation.
McCabe is consumed with two major projects under way in East Naples: the Botanical Place residential development on Bayshore Drive and a retail center called Sugden Park Plaza, near the entrance to Sugden Regional Park on U.S. 41 East.
“I think he’s one of the first people who came out and took a risk here, and I think he was well-received by the government and the community,” said David Jackson, executive director of the CRA Board.
“Nobody took the initiative until he took a risk, and people went, ‘Whoa! If he’s doing something there, I should probably do it, too.’”
Botanical Place will be a nine-building luxury housing complex, containing 36 townhomes and 182 condominiums.
Sixty-four of the condominiums will be designated as affordable housing units, and will range in price from $120,000 to $130,000.
Others will range from $145,000 to $500,000, depending on what the market dictates, McCabe said.
The first units should be available by December, and the entire project is scheduled for completion in April, he said.
Botanical Place is under construction near Botanical Gardens and Sugden Park on Bayshore Drive — an area residents helped redevelop by taxing themselves in 2000. Their efforts produced $5 million worth of landscaping, sidewalk and streetlight improvements along the neighborhood road once infamous for its street walkers and drug transactions.
McCabe said it was the community’s initiative that prompted him to hang onto the properties he owned there and invest in the future of the downtrodden street.
His instincts appear to have paid off, because nearly all of the residential units sold almost immediately without any advertising by McCabe. Only about six remain, which McCabe believes will sell soon.
“I lost money on land investments my first 10 years” in East Naples, McCabe said. “All that changed about six years ago as the business community and the neighborhoods got organized.”
Bayshore community members have a vision for the mile-long roadway: an art district where artists can live, own studios and display their work for visitors to enjoy.
Will Botanical Place help foster that vision?
“Absolutely,” said Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, whose district includes East Naples.
“Phil has offered a place artists can afford, because they’re usually low on cash, but high on talent.”
Sugden Park Plaza
Sugden Park Plaza is a proposed 40,000-square-foot retail center, which will house an undisclosed number of shops and restaurants, McCabe said.
Though he is still in the process of obtaining permits for the project from the county, McCabe said he hopes to begin construction on the project within the next few months.
McCabe has not yet released the names of the businesses that will lease space in the plaza, but he said the demand for the space by business and restaurant owners has been high.
“I am part of the future in many ways, including my time dedicated to the CRAAB, and other things,” he said. “There is no question that with the amount of investment going into East Naples, and the investment that is planned, the future is bright.”
Community leaders, including Fiala, said they have little knowledge of what is to come at Sugden Park Plaza, but they have faith that McCabe will be successful once again.
“Anything Phil McCabe touches turns to gold,” Fiala said. “I haven’t seen the plans or anything yet, but I’m sure it’ll be wonderful.”
Playing a role
McCabe isn’t willing to sit back and hope for the best concerning the success of his East Naples projects. That is why he became an active member of the CRAAB two years ago — to help community members direct the path of the ever-changing community toward their ultimate artsy/family-friendly vision.
“I joined the board, because I have a passion for redevelopment, and improvement of communities,” McCabe said. “I’m sort of a hands-on kind of guy. I work long, hard hours, and I am blessed because of my skills.”
Bill Neal, chairman of the CRAAB, has no doubt that McCabe’s talent for development will be appreciated on Bayshore Drive.
“I think that it’s a compliment to the Bayshore area for a developer like Phil McCabe to come in here,” Neal said. “His developments are to the highest standards in the industry, and we’re happy to have him here.”
McCabe said he has tried to be a friend to community members and county government officials.
In what he hopes will be a sign of his good intentions for the area, McCabe collaborated with officials and CRAAB members to allow public access through Botanical Place so pedestrians can walk to and from Sugden Park and Bayshore Drive.
McCabe and CRAAB members are working on plans to build a boardwalk between the park and Bayshore Drive for pedestrians to use.
“To have pedestrian access to the park is a huge amenity for anybody who lives in the area,” McCabe said. “Urban planning, urban change, urban design must incorporate more and more pedestrian environments.”
Things to come
McCabe’s latest development isn’t much of a secret anymore.
Residential developments, shops, restaurants and other businesses are popping up all over East Naples. Other developers, such as Jim Fields, managing partner of the Cirrus Pointe condominium project at Bayshore Drive and Thomasson Drive, hope to have McCabe’s success in East Naples.
Cirrus Pointe, much like Botanical Place, will offer 108 units, 32 of which will be set aside as work-force housing, ranging in price from $130,000 to $155,000. Other homes will be advertised starting at about $340,000, and ranging up to just over $500,000.
Fields said Cirrus Pointe developers will seek approval for their plans from the Collier County Commission on Oct. 25, and he hopes they will break ground in March or April.
“Phil is obviously under way here, and I’m going to get this going and stick with it,” Fields said.
Projects like these are “so important, because Collier County is really painting itself into a corner with” affordable housing.
As for the future of East Naples, Fiala said developers and community members should keep an eye on McCabe for a hint of things to come.
“Phil, from the very day I met him, has always been a visionary,” she said. “He sees things before anyone else sees them, and when he sees something he wants, he goes after it.”
McCabe agreed, saying his work in East Naples is far from done.
“I have interests in other parts of East Naples, and am looking every day at opportunities in the area.”