Marco business booming, growing

Steve Stefanides

Marco Island has seen a steady pace of building and growth lately.

Real estate sales are up, investments in the refurbishing of businesses and real estate is at an all-time high and new homes are cropping up all over the island.

Moreover, the Marco Marriott Golf and Beach Resort’s $270 million transformation into the only waterfront JW Marriott in the continental U.S. is well underway, with the first phase of the project complete and reopened on schedule on Aug. 1, after being closed for 90 days.

“We couldn’t be happier with the progress and the quality of what we’ll have at the end of this project and the community’s support of our dream for this world class facility,” said Rick Medwedeff, resort general manager.

At the same time, upgrades to the Smokehouse Bay Bridge are proceeding and should be completely opened by mid-October -- in time for what local businesses hope will be another record-breaking season.

Crystal Shores

Constuction on the Crystal Shores Marriott Vacation Club just down the street from the Marriott Golf and Beach Resort began construction in March. Two additional guest buildings will house an additional 148 villas. There will be 116 two-bedroom units and 32 three-bedroom villas to compliment the 128 units presently there near the intersection of Winterberry Drive and South Collier Boulevard.

In addition to the villas they will be adding a stunning new arrival vista for guests and a state of the art fitness facility. They will also be adding a new pool, with an additional bar and grille area and a new kids club.

The newly completed facilities will also have a two story parking facility to accommodate guests and visitors to the property.

The new permanent neighborhood access point for public access to the beach, which will include a lighted paver walkway with a ramp and shower at the walkway’s termination at the beach should be completed within the next 90 days.

A traffic survey has also been that shows a signalized intersection is warranted as part of the overall changes. This will provide a safer flow of traffic at the Winterberry intersection when the project is completed. The city will be working out details for that improvement as part of the overall project at the south end of the island with the developer.

Construction will continue through 2016 should be finished by Jan. 1, 2017.

Rose Marina

Another project that has been sitting in the wings and is now ready to proceed is the refurbishing of the Rose Marco River Marina.

The marina will shortly begin a $15 million renovation at their site on Bald Eagle Drive. That project will entail the demolition of the old boat storage building and its replacement with a state of the art facility for storage of larger craft.

“Everything is in place for the kick off of the project,” said Dan High, general manager of the marina property. “When we are completed here we look forward to having the premier marina operation in all of Southwest Florida. One which our neighbors and the entire community will be extremely proud of.”

The demolition of the old storage facilities will require temporary storage of boats on the property that the company owns at the corner of Magnolia Court and Bald Eagle Drive. That area has been fenced off and green screening has been installed in addition to approximately 45 boat racks. The contractor is finalizing the work which will allow for that usage.

In addition they will also be building a new service facility to replace the present workspace presently used. That facility will also house a boat owners lounge and a large function room to accommodate educational presentations for boaters and fisherman alike as part of this renovation.

The project will also include the complete renovation of the onsite storm water control system, parking facilities, landscaping and pedestrian upgrades. The addition of a boat sales office on the opposite side of Bald Eagle will have a display of boats being sold when the project is completed.

Office space and the ship’s store will also be part of the renovation, but all services and facilities will remain open during the construction period, as will the popular Jack’s Lookout Bar located on the property. The Marco Island Princess is also still operating from their facilities in the Marina. Temporary office trailers will also be located on and around the property to facilitate normal operations during construction.

Real estate

Average values of homes continue to rise on the island, according to Susan Ackerson, president of the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors.

“We’ve seen a very sustainable growth in property values and a great interest in all types of residential units, whether they be condos or single family homes. Even vacant lots are very much in demand,” said Ackerson.

The island may well have the largest inventory of model homes ever seen, it seems model are available in most areas on the island.

Because the demand for housing and permits has skyrocketed, City Manager Roger Hernstadt has begun a plan to beef up staff to meet those requirements.

“The demand for those services and subsequent permit fees will end up paying for it, rather than the taxpayer,” said Hernstadt during a recent hearing to review the 2016 city budget.

More than 50 new homes are under construction or in the various stages of the permitting process, according to Ackerson.