Q: We saw some work being done on the inside and outside of the old Circuit City store at the Carillon Plaza off Airport and Pine Ridge roads. Do you know who is moving into this location?
— Paul Reed, Naples
A: Taking advantage of large retail store vacancies, hhgregg, a publicly owned and operated appliance and electronics chain, plans to open two stores in the Naples-Fort Myers area this fall, said Jason Chudoba, a spokesman for hhgregg.
"At this time I cannot confirm the exact opening dates," Chudoba said.
The Naples store will be in the 36,459-square-foot former home of a Circuit City superstore in Carillon Place, 5052 Airport-Pulling Road, on the southeast corner of Airport and Pine Ridge. This address also was the previous location for Service Merchandise, the defunct chain of catalog showroom stores that operated until around 2000, and temporarily a seasonal Halloween store.
The only Carillon Place store footprint larger than hhgregg's is the WalMart Neighborhood Market that replaced Winn-Dixie years ago. T.J. Maxx is only slightly smaller in size, but OfficeMax, Ross Dress For Less, Beall's Outlet and Total Wine & More have considerably less square footage.
The new hhgregg Fort Myers location, 5100 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite 101, is in Page Plaza, a shopping center across U.S. 41 from Page Field. This former 25,000-square-foot location for OfficeMax is smaller than hhgregg's average store size of 30,000 square feet.
Begun as Gregg Appliances Inc. in 1955, Indianapolis-based hhgregg opened its first Florida stores in Jacksonville and Orlando in 2008. The company now operates 157 stores in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The company has moved into other former Circuit City store locations in Tampa, as well as in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Circuit City closed many stores nationwide within a few months after filing for bankruptcy last year.
Naples Elks find new lodge
Q: I enjoy reading your "In the Know" column. Can you please provide an update on the Elks' plans relative to reopening in a new location with food service? We miss them since they sold their Radio Road location to the county. Thanks.
— Dick Gelson of Naples and New Jersey
Q: Saw a handwritten large sign at the entrance of where Giuseppe's restaurant used to be. Sign: "ELKS." Do you think the Elks Club is going there?
— M.C., East Naples
A: On July 22, Naples Lodge No. 2010 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks purchased the building that housed Giuseppe's Italian restaurant for many years before it closed earlier this year. In fact, the local lodge bought both buildings, 12,000 square feet of commercial space, at 11250 U.S. 41 E. from CRE Properties Inc. for $900,000.
11250 US 41 E., Naples, FL
The Elks have been without a permanent home since June 2009, when they sold their former lodge at 3950 Radio Road to Collier County. The county spent $4.6 million to buy and renovate the 27,474-square-foot building to accommodate property appraiser employees, who relocated from rented space in a former bank building across from the government center on the corner of Airport-Pulling Road and U.S. 41.
The Elks have plans to get started as soon as possible to have meetings at its new location, said George Renner, treasurer and Past Exalted Ruler of the lodge.
"We're hoping to shoot for year end," Renner said. "Hopefully, work will be done in phases. We'll start having meetings there first."
Lodge meetings are temporarily being held in the Naples Italian American Club building on Airport-Pulling Road. In addition to the Italian American Club, the Elks Lodge has used the Lakewood Country Club and Quality Inn for some of its events during the past year.
The Elks are not in a hurry to jump back into the catering and banquet business, a venture that Renner said takes a lot of paid, professional staff members. The local lodge will be run more exclusively than it has been in the past, he said.
"The lodge won't be as active to the public," Renner said. "We're trying to get this place back as a volunteer lounge. We're not looking to open another restaurant in Naples."
At the same time, though, the local lodge wants to build up its membership, which includes 730 members, down from 3,000 at one time. The average age of a member of the Naples Elks Lodge is 74 and a half, said Renner, 73.
"We need younger people to help us, too," he said.
BPOE members are required to be age 21 or over, be U.S. citizens, and believe in God. The fraternal order and social club works to provide services for veterans, sponsors a Boy Scout troop and youth camp, and hosts events such as its Hot Dog Saturdays, which may return in January after last being held in June 2009, Renner said.
If you are interested in joining Naples Elks Lodge, call 643-0075, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find a complete archive of “In the Know” at naplesnews.com/intheknow.