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Q: It was recently announced that Chase would be building a new branch at Juliet Boulevard and Immokalee Road across from Walmart. The area they are clearing, though, is much larger than any bank branch would need. Any idea what else will be going in at that corner?
— John Jaffee, Naples
A: While the specific use of that nearly 18 acres — platted as Gaspar Station planned unit development — can't be certain yet, expect a business park or shopping center to eventually take shape behind the Chase Bank targeted to open later this year on that southwest corner of Immokalee Road and Juliet Boulevard in North Naples.
BCBE Construction of Naples has been busy during the last couple of weeks removing trees, leveling the land and installing underground utilities for property owner trustee Grover Matheney of Miami. BCBE is clearing 15.3 acres of the 17.7-acre rectangular site, said Larry Goodbread, project manager for the general contractor.
The clearing includes 13.2 acres for the bank and future commercial development, as well as excavation of another 2.1 acres for a stormwater retention pond. The 2.4 acres at the south end of the development will remain a preserve, so only non-native trees are being removed in that area, Goodbread said.
BCBE's site work also will include the creation of landscape berms, roadways, parking, and vertical construction, he said.
That section of Immokalee Road is undergoing its most dramatic change in more than seven years, and people are noticing. More than a dozen readers emailed questions during the last couple of weeks about the construction project at 5421 Juliet Blvd.
Ten years ago, the entire southern side of Immokalee Road west of Interstate 75 to nearly Livingston Road was fully forested. In fact, that part of Livingston Road wasn't built yet.
In 2004, work on that segment of Livingston began, as did the construction of Bermuda Palms condominiums, Juliet Boulevard and the building on that corner that became Verizon Wireless last year. Collier County's largest Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on Juliet in 2005.
Construction of the adjacent 4,300-square-foot Chase Bank branch will begin in April on the 1.45-acre outparcel Boos Development Group purchased for $1.85 million in December. The branch is expected to open in late November as part of Phase 1 of the Gaspar Station PUD.
The only initial entrance to the new development will be off Juliet near Immokalee Road, said Craig Timmins of Investment Properties Corp., the agent for the developer. The access lines up with the drive that runs behind Verizon Wireless and leads to the garden center entrance at Wal-Mart's northern end. A second entrance, also already cut, eventually will line up with the drive that runs to the center of the Supercenter.
Timmins said he did not want to speculate on what future businesses would locate to the commercial development.
"We are in discussion with several other folks interested in the property, but we have not come to terms yet," he said. "But it's a great piece of property. There's a lot of interest in it."
As required for the PUD permit, the developer is planting landscaping around the entire perimeter of the parcel, and an internal roadway will service the bank, Timmins said. The bank outparcel will be separated from the future development portion of the business park with two rows of trees on a 15-foot shared buffer, according to planning records from the Collier County Growth Management Division.
Although Gaspar Station is the name of the PUD, Timmins said that won't necessarily be the name of the development. Some developments take on the actual name of the PUD, while some don't, he said.
"I don't know the ultimate name of the project," he said.
Gaspar Station almost didn't get off the ground. In 2005, the property owner let county approval expire for the planned unit development – named Stiles PUD when it was created in 1986. In 2007, the property owner's trustee sought the county's permission to go forward with the development, according to a Daily News report.
In a meeting about two months before the nearby SuperTarget opened in July 2007, planning commissioners expressed concern about the additional stress the proposed retail center would have on Immokalee Road's already congested traffic conditions. County planners, though, said the additional traffic expected to be generated was already part of the planned count.
The PUD in limbo also was considered to have vested rights because its owners had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in rights-of-way land and transportation easements to improve Immokalee Road and create Juliet Boulevard. Since then, the PUD has been delayed by the economic downturn and the period of time Immokalee Road and the interstate were widened and the nearby I-75 interchange was improved to help alleviate increased growth in that area.
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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.