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GOLDEN GATE ESTATES — The prospect of adding two new shopping centers in Golden Gate Estates is coming down to counting rooftops.
So far, there isn’t a consensus as to whether there are enough “rooftops” — or homes — in Golden Gate Estates to attract a grocery store or two to the area. The grocers are the needed hubs for each shopping center. One is to be located near the intersection of Randall Boulevard and Immokalee Road; the other will be at Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards.
“Both projects will need more rooftops before they are a viable project,” Collier County Commissioner Tom Henning said.
Developers are optimistic that there will be enough growth in the Estates to attract grocers. Golden Gate residents and members of the Homeowners Association of Golden Gate Estates have more confidence in the Randall and Immokalee location. Smaller retailers already have been lining up, according to managers of both projects.
“There are additional rooftops coming into Golden Gate Estates. That’s what will attract a major grocer. We’re focused on getting a grocer anchor and we’ve been talking to all the major ones. I just can’t push a billion-dollar corporation around,” said Jack Sullivan, president of Emergent Development Group, which is planning the shopping center at Randall Boulevard and Immokalee Road.
Collier voters in a 2010 straw poll supported the shopping center proposed near Golden Gate and Wilson boulevards. The developer, Crown Management Services, of Presto, Pa., had estimated its opening for fall 2013.
Residents said they don’t see a shopping center coming quickly to Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards as bridge construction in the area continues, traffic counts are decreasing and empty homes continue to potentially dissuade major grocers.
“I feel the Wilson-Golden Gate Boulevard (center) should not be built. The current status of the Wilson Plaza, which is catty-corner from where this one is to be built, barely survives with the tenants now. I can’t imagine building another one and the same thing happens,” said Annette Kniola of the Homeowners Association of Golden Gate Estates.
Naples-based attorney Rick Yovanovich had been speaking for the Randall project’s developer, but couldn’t be reached for updated information despite repeated attempts.
The shopping center has almost all approvals, including voter support in 2010, followed by Collier County commissioners’ approval for the 41-acre, up to 190,000-square-foot center in September 2011.
Commissioners submitted a county growth plan amendment for the project to the Florida Department of Community Affairs, which reviewed it and had no objections.
Mark Teaters, founder of the Homeowners Association of Golden Gate Estates, lives near the shopping center planned for the northwest corner of Golden Gate and Wilson boulevards.
However, Teaters has more confidence in the one about five miles away at Randall Boulevard and Immokalee Road, where grocers would be attracted to new construction, nearby schools, increased traffic counts and increased occupancy rates reported in the northern area of Golden Gate Estates, he said.
“I think the Randall Center is positioning to go,” Teaters said.
Regarding the Estates Shopping Center, which is proposed for Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards near his home, he said he doesn’t figure it is off the table for the long haul, but that it doesn’t seem to be accelerating as quickly as once forecast.
“It’s a guess right now. One (grocer) might come forward and say ‘we’ll take a leap of faith’ and that’s exactly what it is,” Teaters said.
The Estates shopping center has its zoning in place, reported Connie Deane, Collier County government spokeswoman. The Randall center will need to apply to change its zoning.
That will occur when a grocer is secured, Sullivan said.
“Growth is the key consideration for grocers in terms of where to put that store. We expect more activity. We’re very anxious to move forward, excited to move forward. We really think it’s the right location,” Sullivan said.
Despite the developer’s commitment and interest from some residents, confidence isn’t high yet in either location developing quickly.
“Honestly, I still do not see any light at the end of the tunnel for a while. And if there will be a light, I say the Randall (center) will be first,” Kniola said.