NORTH NAPLES — King Richard's Family Fun Park may change the type of cars it features, from go-carts to Hyundais.
Owners of the land that's now home to King Richard's amusement center on Airport-Pulling Road have applied to Collier County government to change the zoning at the 11.3-acre family park to an automobile dealership with related repair services.
Top Hat Holdings LLC has a contract to buy the property and develop it, subject to the county's approval of rezoning for the property.
Tim Zellers, of Tamiami Ford, Hyundai and Mitsubishi, said he couldn't say as of now which automobile dealership the company would open at the site. However, a traffic impact analysis of a Tamiami Hyundai dealership was submitted to the county staff for both the development rezoning application and on other documents.
The project would start construction in 2013, according to the application submitted to Collier County's Growth Management Department for review.
The family park site, owned by Bic's Investment Corp., has been listed for sale since 2006. Robert and Deborah Bickle, owners of the park, were unavailable for comment.
In 2006, Toll Brothers, a luxury home developer, was interested in purchasing King Richard's to build a condominium complex on the North Naples property but the project didn't come to fruition.
When told about the prospect of the site becoming a car dealership instead of an amusement park, some parents visiting King Richard's were upset about losing one of the few places in the Naples area for children to play.
"I cannot believe that they want a dealership here," said Tammy Hallam, who used to frequent the park with her four children when they were younger. "We don't have anything for the kids to do here."
The Bonita Springs resident said it's difficult to travel with children to find a family spot with games where the entire family can have fun.
"It will be missed," said Hallam, while visiting the arcade game area at King Richard's with a 4-year-old boy she was baby-sitting. "We don't need another car dealership."
It's not just the little ones and their parents who would miss it.
"It should stay," said Samantha Caredeo, 25, of East Naples, while playing an indoor mini basketball game with her boyfriend. "You don't really have something like this in Naples."
The park's potential closure also would mean Collier County's Parks and Recreation Department would have to look for an alternative for summer camp field trips.
"If King Richard's closes or changes, the department will find something else for the summer campers to do," said Margie Hapke, a spokeswoman for Collier County government.
Some neighbors aren't concerned about a car dealership going there.
"We are perfectly content with a dealership there," said Steve Utz, president of the Walden Oaks Homeowners Association.
Residents of Walden Oaks subdivision off Airport-Pulling Road, near Pine Ridge Road, have just two concerns: the height of lighting for a car lot and the noise from paging phone calls announced over loudspeakers.
"I cannot imagine there will be large, multi-story buildings," said Utz, who has lived at Walden Oaks for 13 years. "That's our biggest objection, anything that we can see towering our community."
Traffic may not be a concern to neighbors because the total number of trips generated on an average weekday would decrease to 169 from 291, or 42 percent, according to the traffic impact analysis submitted to the county staff.
The proposed 65,000-square-foot dealership would include an automobile showroom, service area, car wash and detail area.
The application, submitted in May, requests a deviation to reduce the 15-foot buffer to 10 feet for the northern portion of the property adjacent to a residential area. The application was submitted on May 11.
Nancy Gundlach, a principal planner with county government, said the site won't be redeveloped within the next three months.
"We are waiting for them to resubmit their application for review and then we will take it from there," Gundlach said.
The petition requires three public meetings — the first one is a neighborhood information meeting, which can be done after the first application is submitted and reviewed.
Gundlach said the application still is being reviewed, so it hasn't yet been scheduled for a public meeting. The request then would need to be scheduled for public hearings before the county planning board and Collier County Commission.
Currently, the development rules on the property allow for an amusement park, but not a car dealership.
State officials also would have a say — an amendment to the comprehensive plan would be necessary to change the future land-use map at the state level.
For now, it's still fun and games at King Richard's.
"As of right now, King Richard's is not sold," said Al Colarusso, who has owned the kitchen and bar inside the park for three years. "We are going to be here next year."
Colarusso said there is a contract, which happens often, but the property isn't sold."What happens in 2014, I cannot tell you," Colarusso said. "If it were my property, I would try to rezone it for whatever is possible."
Just this year, Colarusso said, the park has spent more than $100,000 in new games and renovations.
"I'm not worried about my future," Colarusso said.