Kmart closing; Lowe’s still has plans for 951/U.S. 41 area

$18.5 million investment could bring 175 new jobs to area

Article Highlights

  • Kmart closing to bring liquidation sales through Oct. 25
  • Lowes to hire, though timeline not yet set
  • “The bottom line is they have the permit, they can start tomorrow if they so choose.” said Joe Schmitt, the county’s administrator for Community Development and Environmental Services regarding Lowes.

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Let the sales begin. KMart on U.S. 41 near 951 is closing Oct. 25 with liquidation sales underway.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff

Let the sales begin. KMart on U.S. 41 near 951 is closing Oct. 25 with liquidation sales underway.

— Shoppers in East Naples will have some adjustments to make in the coming months. Two retail giants are making big moves and changing the face of the retail market in central Collier County.

First, Kmart in Freedom Square will be closing Oct. 25 said spokeswoman Kim Freely. Located on Collier Boulevard and Tamiami Trail, the store is within a mile of a Wal-mart Super Center that opened in 2006.

“The lease was not renewed. We evaluate the properties as their lease comes to an end,” Freely said. She added that the store “doesn’t always disclose the specific reasons” and in this instance, she was not able to share more on the reasons for the store’s closing.

Currently there’s also a Kmart located at 4955 Golden Gate Parkway, and a second store at 4383 Tamiami Trail. Freely said neither of those Naples location is looking to close at this time.

Liquidation at the Kmart in Freedom Square began Thursday and will continue until all items are gone. Big sales and good deals will be had by customers during the third-party liquidation, Freely said.

After almost two years of rumors, Lowe’s Home Centers, has finally bought property at the Eagle Creek Shopping Center to open a new store on the opposite corner from Kmart. According to Collier County Clerk records, the company purchased 13.39 acres of land for $9.5 million to build a freestanding store at the strip mall. The 116,000 square foot building will also house a 32,000 square foot garden center. Maureen Rich, a spokesperson for Lowes, said the store should have a big impact on East Naples.

“What that means for the community is 175 jobs, most of which are full-time,” she said. The company’s average investment in a new store, she continued, is about $18.5 million and the company is confident that East Naples has the resources to support it. Hundreds of factors are taken into account before Lowes decides to open a new store, such as population and potential for growth.

“Naples has great potential for growth and we would like to serve our customers there,” Rich said.

Although Lowes hasn’t created a timeline for the project, they are permitted to break ground immediately.

“The bottom line is they have the permit, they can start tomorrow if they so choose,” said Joe Schmitt, the county’s administrator for Community Development and Environmental Services. “It’s in their hands as to when they start building.”

Initially, Lowes and the county faced delays in the project because of the potential for increased traffic at the intersection. Already listed as “failing” by the county, several developers planned projects for the area that would possibly overload the roadways. However, Schmitt said, most of those deals have fallen through because of the faltering economy and the way has been left clear for Lowes to follow through with their plans. County commissioners and the company reached an agreement in March that would allow future expansion of the intersection and the store to be built without creating further traffic problems

Staff reporter Kelly Farrell contributed to this story

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