Q: I thoroughly enjoy your excellent and well-written column. It is essential reading for anyone interested in keeping up with developments in Naples, especially the incredible turnover in restaurants. We drive Davis Boulevard into Old Naples sometimes multiple times per day and the telephone company site on the north side of Davis just west of Airport-Pulling Road has been an eyesore for years. Even when it was a functioning building, the occupants were loathe to make any effort to make the site less unappealing. Now it appears the site is being cleared. Do you know to what purpose?
— Dennis A. Sandberg, East Naples
Q: What is being done to the old Embarq property on Davis near Airport Road?
— Dave Edmunds, Naples
Q: Do you know what going on at the old Sprint facility on the corner of Airport and Davis? Thanks.
— Deb Collins, Naples
Q: What is going on at the corner of Airport and Davis Boulevard? I think it was a former Verizon facility. Thanks.
— Joseph Miccio, East Naples
A: The former telephone company's office and warehouse at 3147 Davis Blvd. is being readied for the future home of an exotic car superstore, said Nick Garulay, manager of Ambassador Luxury & Exotic Cars, which is expected to open early next year.
"We're excited about it. We've been working on it for awhile," he said.
Garulay, who formerly operated Ambassador Auto Sales across the street, is partnering with the Liebig family, which has owned car dealerships in Naples for many years. Patrick Liebig, the dealer principal of Airport Kia in East Naples, purchased the Davis Boulevard property from CenturyLink earlier this year, according to Collier County property records.
Liebig and Garulay didn't choose to share details about their new venture yet, but the Naples real estate broker who handled the transaction said the new dealership will sell low-mileage luxury vehicles such as Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini cars at enormous discounts.
"There is no way you or I or anyone else would not think they weren't brand new," said Mary Willkomm of Perfect Properties of Naples. "It's a wonderful addition to the community. The community is going to love this addition."
In February, Garulay partnered with Airport Kia to establish a new temporary showroom for his Ambassador pre-owned vehicles at the Kia dealership's location on Airport-Pulling Road across from Naples Municipal Airport. Garulay's exotic cars will be featured alongside Kia models until the firm's new facility is completed, according to information on nickgarulay.com.
At the new location, the old pavement has been excavated and the chain-link fence on the perimeter of the property is gone. Remaining is the two-story, 12,460-square-foot building built in 1964 on more than 2 acres.
During four decades at that location, the local telephone company did business with at least as many names: CenturyLink, Embarq Florida, Sprint, and United Telephone Company of Florida. The phone company relocated last year after leasing new office and warehouse space in Kraft Office Center off Pine Ridge Road.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
Former Naples Cheesecake bakery
Q: I see they are tearing down the old Naples Cheesecake store and the empty seafood restaurant next to it on the North Trail. Do you know what's going on? Something new going there in its place?
— Marilyn Moser, North Naples
A: It really is something new. A new dry cleaner is opening by late March in the former location of the Tropical Reef Seafood Restaurant and Naples Cheesecake Co. bakery, but it's not your average dry cleaning service.
That vacant space at 8050 Trail Blvd. will be the first Florida location for Tide Dry Cleaners. Tide? As in the laundry detergent? Exactly.
"We've been in your home for over 60 years. It's about time we got our own place," its website states.
Tide's familiar name and orange-and-yellow bullseye logo will even adorn the new business. The maker of household products has lent its iconic name brand to the franchised service industry since 2009, but only 14 of the Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble spinoffs have opened nationwide so far. After Naples, other Florida locations are planned for Tampa and Tallahassee in 2013.
"It's a name brand. You couldn't have a better product to partner with," said Robert Lyons, president of the local franchise company, Consolidated Cleaners Inc. "We're changing dry cleaning for good. The quality of garment care and the quality of the service is above and beyond what markets usually experience."
Tide uses GreenEarth technology, a fresh approach to dry cleaning that claims to be a cleaner, gentler, environmentally safer process. The local business will have two valet lanes for customer service available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, as well as a 24/7 clothes dropoff and pickup kiosk for after hours, Lyons said.
"It's sort of like an ATM. It's all computerized and attaches your information to your order," he said. "It's new and most people haven't seen it."
Built in 1981 along the eastern side of U.S. 41, just south of Vanderbilt Beach Road, the 5,069-square-foot structure has been gutted. The remaining shell will be used to create the more than 3,000-square-foot Tide, as well as an adjoining retail business yet to be signed.
The 1,852-square-foot space left over is being marketed for a business complementary to the dry cleaner. For example, the architect's rendering for that second space indicates a coffee shop.
The property, located next to the Guadalupe resale shop, has been vacant since 2008. The Tropical Reef restaurant permanently closed at that location after operating for seven years, as did next door's Naples Cheesecake bakery, which had operated for 25 years.
In September, an investment group purchased the free-standing building for $1.1 million, real estate transactions show.
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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.