1075 Central Ave.
NAPLES — The final walls of the former downtown Naples Daily News building may fall by week’s end, at the earliest.
Several of the walls at the newspaper’s former headquarters at 1075 Central Ave., which first opened in 1969, fell Monday in the demolition process. The remaining walls could be torn down Thursday.
“We are extremely excited about the whole thing,” said Michael Fernandez, owner of Planning Development Inc., who purchased the 10-acre property.
The target date for the demolition to be completed is Friday, said Michael O’Leary, regional director of newspaper operations for The E.W. Scripps Co., the parent company of the Daily News.
“The schedule is only a target and it is not fixed in stone,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary said the project has undergone a lot of delays and weekly changes.
“The project is taking longer than we expected,” O’Leary said. “There have been many challenges with the project, but we are very impressed with the efforts Gates has made to keep the project moving.”
Scripps, which owns the Daily News, contracted with Gates Butz Institutional Construction to demolish the building. Among challenges was the death of the original demo-contractor.
Once the building is completely demolished, O’Leary said, building debris, including concrete, rebar and metal, on the site will have to be removed.
O’Leary said he expects activity at the site well into June.
Demolition on the property and 87,500-square-foot building — which has several buildings along 12th Street North in addition to the main building at 1075 Central – began in December. Annexed buildings were among the first to come down.
“The south parcel of the property has been totally cleared,” Fernandez said. “It has given us a blank slate to work with and we are excited to go in there.”
There is still old foundation, several walls and debris left on the site, Fernandez said.
Planning Development Inc. has plans for a mixed-use development on the newspaper’s former site. Plans call for 117 residential units that would sell in the $200,000-to-$350,000 price range each alongside several commercial units — about 84,000 square feet of commercial space — which would include offices, stores, restaurants and show rooms.
Fernandez could not comment on prospective tenants. However, Fernandez said he anticipates local businesses will sign on.
The homes would include some one-story units, two-story units, lofts and other designs, Fernandez said.
The development will be focused around an acre plaza, he said.
“If all goes as planned, we are probably looking at having products available to move in within 18 months (in the first phase),” he said.
However, there is still some work to be done. Once the demolition is complete, Fernandez said, the developer has 60 days to complete the environmental testing.
The developer is waiting to do an environmental testing beneath the building, which is common.
“We don’t expect to find anything, but it’s absolutely prudent,” Fernandez said.
Permits were issued last summer for demolition of the old Daily News site, but toxic asbestos concrete slowed progress.
The building underwent an asbestos survey on Aug. 2, which is standard procedure for old buildings. All asbestos found has been removed, Fernandez said.
The Daily News relocated to 1100 Immokalee Road in North Naples in August 2009.
The media company has been in Naples since 1947 and moved to the Central Avenue location in 1969. The Central Avenue building was expanded from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 in 1980 and again doubled in size in 1990.
Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/