When Allison and Josh Callas relocated from Bergen County, New Jersey, four years ago they looked around Naples and saw a completely different marketplace.
"There's an expression that if you want to be successful, you should take a rich person to lunch," Allison Callas said, laughing. "We asked for some advice from a friend. He said that today in Naples you should own a business and he suggested a franchise, because then you have a proven system with proven products."
So, the Callases decided on PJ's Coffee of New Orleans, a coffeehouse and wine bar chain. The business is set to open in September at Goodlette Corners, a new shopping center.
More than 28 new retailers will be moving into two new shopping centers at the corner of Goodlette-Frank and Pine Ridge roads, transforming two vacant lots at one of Collier County's busiest intersections. Goodlette Corners and Magnolia Square will be opened to retail tenants this fall, and Collier County's transportation department is working to mitigate traffic associated with the new development.
Goodlette Corners, owned by a partnership of investors, is a 45,000 square foot building on the intersection's southwest corner. Currently, it is 90 percent leased for $24 to $30 per square foot.
At PJ's, the inside framing has just begun and the Callases have a lot of work to do before the shop will start brewing coffee and pouring wine. The coffeehouse will offer fresh baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and a wine and tapas bar. Customers will sit inside or outside on a patio on the south side of the building.
For Allison Callas, choosing Goodlette Corners was all about location.
"Our company emphasizes visibility from the road," she explained. "So when I saw this property I said, 'Ooh, I have to have this one!' It's a very central intersection, a great mix of residential and commercial. It's also very visible."
An urban-themed restaurant called South Street City Oven and Grill will occupy the center's largest space, a 4,500 square foot area in the corner.
"We're doing light Italian cuisine in an urban environment," said owner Joe Unsinn. "We look at it as the bar without the bar food. We're offering everything from pizzas, calzones and stromboli to salads, sandwiches and light pastas."
Unsinn hopes to begin interior construction this week, and to open in late September.
"The county's so backed up with permitting that we're later than we had ever expected," said Steve Hovland, developer and leasing agent for Goodlette Corners. "We expect to have it ready to go by Sept. 1, and you're going to see the tenants trickling in. Everyone's working to open for the season."
Across the intersection, Starbucks addicts will be able to get their frappuccino fixes without even stepping out of their cars at a drive-up window in Magnolia Square.
The center, a joint venture of Barron Collier Cos. and Courtelis Co., includes 147,000 square feet of retail and office space with six outparcels. Sweetbay Supermarkets, a Tampa-based grocer, will anchor Magnolia Square. Permitting delays pushed the market's opening back from early 2007 to mid-year, according to Nicole LeBeau, spokeswoman for Sweetbay.
In a 3,300 square foot space nearby, The Mole Hole, a Naples staple for 35 years, will be opening a gift shop to replace its location in Waterside Shops which closed last year.
"Our job as the owners is to go out and find treasures," said Bill Haines, who co-owns the new store and The Mole Hole on Third Street South in downtown Naples with Ed Oehler. "They're gifts for every occasion and for every member of the family."
The store's name comes from Mr. Mole, a character in the children's book the "The Wind and the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame, who traveled the world and came home with treasures to share with others.
Haines would like to open the store this fall, but he was skeptical about the timeline because of permitting delays.
"We really have no idea when we're opening because they have to get the construction completed and then we have to get the permitting done," Haines said. "Government can become a real obstacle to your operation."
Magnolia Square's retail space is 95 percent leased and the office space — 37,000 square feet — is 50 percent leased. Retail and office tenants are paying $25 to $30 per square foot.
Though the development could potentially bring more traffic to an already busy intersection, the county actually expects volume on Pine Ridge Road to decrease by 10 to 20 percent when Golden Gate Parkway opens late this year or early next spring, said Nick Casalanguida, planning manager in the Collier County Department of Transportation Planning.
Parking lots will be connected to allow customers to travel between buildings without re-entering the main road and back access roads will make re-entering easier. In addition, a sensor-operated traffic light will monitor incoming vehicles and adjust to traffic flow to provide more green-light time.
Residents of Northgate Village on Goodlette-Frank are concerned about increased noise and traffic, said Jill Breed, president of Northgate's homeowners association.
The two new centers are close to Mission Square and Mission Plaza, two other properties that opened on Pine Ridge within the last few years.
"There's always some competition and overlap," said Rod Castan, vice president of Courtelis Co. "But it creates a retail hub at the intersection (of Pine Ridge and Goodlette-Frank) which helps both properties work well."
The Callases expect coffeehouse competition from Starbucks and from It's a Grind Coffeehouse in Mission Plaza, but Allison said she prefers to look at it as "coop-etition," a term she borrowed from her corporate background.
"Coop-etition is a combination of competition and cooperation," Allison said. "We're both trying to make sure that people have great coffee. Yes, we're competing. But we all work together to keep the concept of coffeehouses looking attractive."