Q: What is going on at the southeast corner of 41 and Michigan? Construction fencing is up and heavy equipment on site. Also, what is going on with the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building on opposite corner at same intersection? Thanks for the research and information.
— A. Ferraro, Naples
Q: Do you what is going on with the property at U.S. 41 and Michigan Ave across from the old KFC? It looks like they are getting ready to demolish the whole block. I am wondering what they will be building?
— Mike, Naples
A: Nearly that entire block along U.S. 41 in Naples is being demolished to make way for Bascom Palmer Eye Institute's future ophthalmology research, treatment and surgery center.
Demolition work began Friday on 1.57 acres, actually five parcels between Michigan Avenue and Cypress Woods Drive, said Patrick Fraley of Investment Properties Corp. of Naples.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
Slated for demolition are a vacant 13,000-square-foot, two-story office building built in 1974 on 0.3 acres at 3898 U.S. 41 N. on the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue; various mixed-use structures, including the 3,000-square-foot former Park Shore Kitchens store built in 1979, on 0.32 acres at 3860 U.S. 41 N. on the corner of Cypress Woods Drive; and a 3,000-square-foot building and garage built in 1954 on 0.24 acres at 3880 U.S. 41 N. in between these first two properties. Two vacant commercial properties along Michigan Avenue add another 0.71 acres to the redevelopment project.
Bascom Palmer, a nonprofit organization which is part of the University of Miami Health System, purchased the Naples real estate late last year, but it has not released renderings, specific plans or a timeline for opening its new center.
Meanwhile, across the street on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Michigan Avenue, the old KFC drive-thru, 3906 U.S. 41 N., soon will be transformed into a branch for BankUnited. K-Corp. Lee Inc., the KFC franchisee for Collier and Lee counties, closed the fast-food chicken chain restaurant last summer after operating it for 20 years in Naples.
Old Naples Seaport Marina
Q: I was wondering what happened to Old Naples Seaport Marina. It is completely gone. I checked with the city of Naples and no word on any new building permits, just demolition permits. A lot of people are interested in this project. Please advise.
— Rob Llewellyn, Naples
A: The floating docks for the Naples marina's 30 boat slips are in the process of being replaced, but pilings were not removed, said Frank Perrucci, dockmaster and vice president for American Marine Management Co., which manages the Old Naples Seaport Marina and the nearby Naples Boat Club.
"All old docks were taken out and all new docks will be put in place," Perrucci said.
The refurbishing work started just before Christmas and is expected to be completed April 1.
"It wasn't planned for season time, it just happened to be that way," Perrucci said. "It just happened to be when the permitting process was finished."
The same number of individually owned private slips, ranging from 48 feet to 158 feet long, will return to the marina, located on the western edge of Naples Bay at 10th Avenue South.
"We will be leasing slips on a long-term basis, or short-term to transient vessels," said Perrucci, who also is president of the Marine Industries Association of Collier County.
In the meantime, of course, boats have been temporarily transplanted to prearranged locations prior to work being done. Some relocated to the Naples Boat Club marina, some to Marco Island, some to the Keys and elsewhere, Perrucci said.
Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo
Q: Traveling west (north) on Interstate 75 near mile marker 50, there is a lot of construction. Looks like a paved parking lot. What is being built there?
— Ruth Ruskin, Naples
A: That Alligator Alley project is a new recreational access facility that includes a boat ramp and parking lot with fencing and lighting at mile marker 51 of the interstate, said JoAnn May, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation.
The cost of the FDOT project is $4.7 million, and the contractor on the job is Fort Lauderdale-based Conalvias USA. Final inspections are expected soon and then the Big Cypress National Preserve will open it to the public and operate this recreational access point in Collier County, May said.
"FDOT is just finishing this project that included widening and resurfacing the facility's roadway, making drainage improvements, and adding intelligent transportation system components as well as cable barrier on I-75 in this area," she said.
Expect the new access point for boating and fishing on the nearly 10 miles of L-28 canal to be open by the end of March, said Pedro Ramos, superintendent for Big Cypress National Preserve. Because the exit ramp is accessible only from I-75's westbound lanes, motorists coming from Collier County will have to exit at the Miccosukee service plaza at mile marker 49, turn around, and drive westbound on the Alley about a mile or so to use it, Ramos said.
"It makes it a lot easier than before to put in boats for recreational purposes," he said.
The new project provides the third of three required access points to the national preserve as designated by a Congressional act, Ramos said. Other I-75 access points are at the full rest area at mile marker 63, and farther west at mile marker 71, which does not provide any services or facilities, he said.
"We are excited about it because it will meet the requirements of the law, but, most importantly, it will provide a safe way to get off the highway at that location so that Floridians and those from other states and perhaps other countries can enjoy that area of the preserve that belongs to all of us in this country," Ramos 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.