I will try to straighten out the issue of the elongated S-curve on Interstate 75, or rather State Road 84, next week. Thanks for your patience and local infrastructure interest.
Q: What's going up where the old Saturn car agency use to be on Airport-Pulling?
— Richard Ellis, Naples
Q: What is happening across from the airport next to Michelbob's? This was a former car dealership, now a huge construction zone.
— Dale, Naples
Q: Do you know what is under construction at the corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Prospect Avenue in Naples? It's a huge project, but I have seen no mention of it. Thanks.
— Jeremy, Naples
A: That East Naples property, formerly home to Saturn of Naples until the automobile dealership closed in 2009 to merge with Saturn of Fort Myers, will continue to host a car dealer. CarMax Auto Superstores Inc., the Walmart of car retailers, plans to open a location there in late August, according to Elia Imler, a spokeswoman for CarMax.
The new dealership will total about 5.5 acres on a corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Prospect Avenue. Last year, Richmond, Va.-based CarMax purchased the more than 4-acre former Saturn property at 425 Airport-Pulling Road N. for $3.1 million, as well as an adjacent 1.33-acre parcel on Prospect Avenue that used to be a pile-driving business.
Construction on CarMax's new location began in February. CarMax razed the more than 10,500-square-foot building Saturn had used for its showroom, offices, and service bays. It also demolished a building on the adjacent property, and is erecting a new, 13,965-square-foot building, Imler said.
CarMax's new Fort Myers location will open before Naples, probably in June, Imler said. The car superstore purchased a nearly 17-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Colonial Boulevard and Metro Parkway for $4.1 million last year. The larger Fort Myers location will be CarMax's regional production store, where Naples inventory will be stored and its cars reconditioned, Imler said.
CarMax plans to hire 50 to 75 employees for its Naples store. Hiring probably will begin in early July, she said.
CarMax currently operates 109 used car superstores in 54 markets nationwide.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
11250 US 41 E., Naples, FL
New Elks Lodge
Q: I am sure you are aware of the new Elks Lodge on Tamiami Trail East. Someone has contracted extensive renovations to that plaza. Do you know if anything else will accompany the Elks lodge in that plaza? Maybe a new restaurant?
— Michelle S. Jay, Naples
Q: I see that work is still continuing on the Naples Elks Club. Do you have any information on when the club will be ready to open again?
— Michelle Naughton, Naples
A: Naples Elks Lodge No. 2010 moved in officers and began having meetings last July at its new site, 11250 U.S. 41 E., after the fraternal order received a temporary occupancy certificate to use a couple of meeting rooms and a few small offices on the end of the building nearest U.S. 41. Eventually, a new lodge restaurant and lounge will be completed there, but they will be for lodge members only, said Rob Smith, the local lodge's secretary and the most recent past exalted ruler, or lodge leader.
"Unlike Radio Road, we're not going to be open to the public at all," Smith said.
The former Elks Lodge at 3950 Radio Road opened in March 2000 with full-service banquet rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen and a public restaurant. It hosted weddings, business meetings, luncheons, trade shows and many other local events. But membership dipped and the Elks looked to downsize.
In June 2009, Collier County commissioners purchased the former Elks Lodge for $3.5 million, and made more than $1 million in renovations to transform it into offices for the county property appraiser's employees, who worked for years out of rented space at Airport-Pulling Road and U.S. 41 East across from the government center. The sale left the local Elks without a permanent home.
In July 2010, Naples Lodge purchased the building that housed Giuseppe's Italian restaurant for many years, as well as the second building in the small shopping plaza from CRE Properties Inc. for $900,000. The plaza also previously housed a Mexican restaurant, a pawn shop, hair salon, nail boutique and other businesses.
The Elks connected the two buildings to form one L-shaped building, and created the lodge's main entrance where the buildings meet. Construction work on the entire complex is expected to be completed in May. The new lodge is on the west side of the East Trail, about a half mile south of Treviso Bay, and just south of Conty's Motel.
The Elks' new home — which will be about 13,800 square feet when completed — is only half the size of the organization's old Radio Road location of about 27,500 square feet, but it will be fully equipped for the lodge's 500 members.
"It will be nice when it is all done," Smith said. "We made the building as flexible as possible."
The lodge's new restaurant and lounge will be in Giuseppe's former space. In fact, the bar itself was Giuseppe's, and will remain in its original location. The restaurant's old tile floor also was saved, but everything else is new, Smith said.
In addition to administrative offices, the new lodge will have a multi-purpose room to host bingo games once or twice a week and plans to resume its popular Hot Dog Saturday events there, Smith said.
After temporarily meeting at Quality Inn & Suites in Golden Gate, the Italian American Club in North Naples and other venues, the local group has found an East Naples place to call home again and rebuild its ranks, down from 3,000 members at one time.
"We have to start slow. We're basically restarting after three years," Smith said.
Those interested in becoming a member of the fraternal order or learning more about the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, are invited to call (239) 643-0075, or go to elks.org.
"We're a charity group that has fun as opposed to a social group that does charity work," Smith said.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.