In the Know: Updates on several North Naples shopping centers, Oakes, DSW, and Forever 21
Not wanting to be another Miami.
It's one of the most repeated phrases I hear in my time back to Southwest Florida, besides, "Who the heck are you?"
But is Miami that ghastly?
I mean, in addition to arguably serving as the de facto economic capital of Latin America, there's non-stop Cuban coffee poured on seemingly every street corner. It's kind of the Roman equivalent of fresh drinking water gushing out of the ancient nasoni fountains in all those Italian squares. If only Miami could figure out a way to do that with Cuban coffee and also have the Culligan man roll into our offices with those baby blue 5-gallon bottles full of beautiful brew.
I digress. That's not what Naples reader Robert Martin is wanting to hear. He submitted a question:
Is Naples the next Miami?
Wait, this Miami stuff again. Oh sorry, there's more to his question. Let's let him finish.
Two lots in the Vanderbilt Commons (Lots 5 & 6) were purchased by Vanderbilt Way Apartments and approved on Aug. 15 to build 58 (two- and three-bedroom) units in a single building on a total of 2.5 acres. This density of 23 units per acre is far beyond the original density of 4.3 units per acre when this complex was first approved and goes well beyond current Collier density.
It's a legitimate inquiry for this property on the north side of Vanderbilt Beach Road, just off Collier Boulevard that also has a growing number of businesses, such as Cirella's Italian Bistro & Sushi Bar and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which opened a year ago.
The math, though, is figured a little bit differently by Collier County.
"Both the Growth Management Plan (GMP) Subdistrict and the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for Vanderbilt Commons allow density to be calculated based on the total PUD acreage," said Zoning Services Section Manager Ray Bellows.
GMP. PUDs, subdistricts. Yeah, they really talk like that. You should be around them when they've had a few Cuban coffees. Whoa, Cuban coffee again coming up in my column. Enough of that.
So let's simplify:
The bottom line is that the county and developer are calculating based on the 14.49 acres of Vanderbilt Commons (shopping center land included), not just those 2.5 acres where the residential development is focused. By doing that, it comes out to 4 units per acre.
That's "consistent with the already adopted GMP and PUD," Bellows said.
The idea for homes goes back to at least 2007, but the project became a victim of the economic downturn. Talk of residential gained traction almost four years ago, and the plan has solidified.
The County Commission takes up a vote related to this project at its 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting on the third floor of the Collier County Government Center, 3299 Tamiami Trail East.
Now, on the question of whether this area is going to become another Miami:
Randy Thibaut, president and CEO of LSI Properties Inc., is among those who beg to differ. If anything, all the land protected from development in Southwest Florida alone is going to help prevent that, Thibaut said. For example, more than 75 percent of the land in Collier County is in conservation or under public ownership.
Pamela Whitfield asked on Facebook:
OMG. Just realized the DSW store at Wiggins Pass is closed! What happened? Too close to the DSW at Coconut Point?
Sounds like their boots — and shoes — really were made for walking.
Shopper Emily Heaney observed that not enough people were coming to that North Naples shopping center known as Gateway Shoppes at North Bay, 13585 Tamiami Trail N. that's operated by Benderson Development.
We haven't heard back from DSW Shoes, but both offered by Whitfield and Heaney are good theories.
As previously reported by In the Know, Lucky's Market was supposed to have already debuted in Gateway Shoppes. The owners, however, decided to hold off until next year so there hasn't been the corresponding increase in shopping center traffic that was anticipated. Couldn't have helped DSW's situation.
On the DSW location hypothesis: The Coconut Point spot at 8050 Mediterranean Drive, Estero is about eight miles away. And in addition, this matches the same distance to the brand new DSW at Carillon Place at Airport-Pulling and Pine Ridge roads that opened on Sept. 19. It's at Carillon that we reported the Sept. 13 opening of Five Below, just a few doors down from the DSW.
Another possible factor: Designer Brands, owner of DSW, showed a drop in sales in its recently released second-quarter earnings as compared to a year ago. It also finished 2018 with a reported net loss of more than $20 million. The company lost nearly $46 million over the Christmas holiday period, according to CNN, and it closed at least 38 stores last year.
Mark Chait, Benderson's executive in charge of the company's Florida leasing, offered comments after we first wrote about this on naplesnews.com this past week.
His conclusion: "They decided to re-position themselves."
As far as traffic at the center, which opened about a dozen years ago, Chait said it's 90 percent occupied with businesses such as Bealls and Five Guys, and that he's "working with several great prospects" to fill the vacated DSW spot.
Holding a long-term lease, he's not worried about Lucky's delaying arrival until 2020. (Public records show it's for 20 years.)
"We've done several deals with Lucky's," Chait said. "It's going to enhance" the shopping center.
Another question readers have had is regarding construction they've spotted at Marketplace Commons, catty-corner from the aforementioned Gateway Shoppes and another Benderson center.
Chait had answers for that one, too.
With the shopping center at 100 percent occupancy including City Furniture, Benderson is expanding it, even though a tenant hasn't been lined up for it yet.
"We're very bullish on the Greater Naples area," Chait said.
Combined the two plazas have 400,000 square feet.
Oakes jobs, parking
Chandler Green, co-owner of Green Heron Landscapes, asked this past week via email:
What is the construction going on across from the new Oakes market on Livingston Road? It is on the west side of the street located in the FPL easement. Is this the employee parking for Oakes? How will they cross Livingston? Thought it might make for a good “In the Know” article.
You're right. It is a good topic we're hoping to hit in more detail in a later column with interviews. But since you asked, and Naples Daily News Facebook readers that include Annie Brad and Ghislaine L. Pelletier, also had inquiries Wednesday, let's get down to your excellent question.
As previously reported on naplesnews.com, the Oakes Farms' Seed to Table store off Immokalee Road in North Naples is set to open Nov. 6 or around that. And although there is a track record of postponements going back four years, the latest plans haven't deviated based on information from a recent homeowners board presentation.
Employees will park across Livingston in the new lot that's going in and be shuttled back and forth. At one point there was talk of a bridge over Livingston, but with factors, such as a $2.5 million price tag for Oakes, that's not in the plans for now.
Oakes Farms Inc. purchased the former Albertsons supermarket and its 7-acre lot at 4835 Immokalee Road for $5 million in 2014. The initial plans called for opening in 2015, and it was delayed to 2016. Then it was 2017, and then 2018.
This time, jobs are posted, with plans for up to 500 employees. There are 78 positions listed on the Oakes site, and multiple workers will be hired for many of those. They need several people just for the guacamole station. A couple of my favorites: "Wine/Beer Enthusiasts" and "Mozzarella Stretching" personnel.
None of these are going to allow you to buy an oceanfront mansion any time soon, but it appears you might pick up a new skill.
Adding to East Trail
A reader asked: What's going on just off Tamiami Trail East on Palm Drive in Naples?
Wyands Building Corp. reports that a $15 million construction project began Sept. 16 on eight acres at 101 Palm Drive of 20 single-family homes next to the golf course for The Glades Golf & Country Club.
Prices of the Seahorse Cottages at Cambria homes will be starting at $554,800 pre-construction, said Yvonne Hubschman, vice-president for Wyands, which has a website for the development at seahorsecottagesatcambria.com. As first covered on naplesnews.com this past week, the first ones should be ready within six months,
The Inn on Fifth & Club Level Suites in downtown Naples completed its $5 million renovation Tuesday, doing a lot of it during the buzzy four-week gap when owner Phil McCabe closed his main building at 699 5th Avenue S. It reopened this past week.
The extensive "refinements" as the proud McCabe calls them include this sampling:
♦ a major upgrade of the rooftop pool courtyard with various flooring and a new gazebo, bar and seating.
♦ floor-to-ceiling porcelain tile flooring and high-impact, sound-resistant tinted glass sliding doors in the rooms; and
♦ bathroom vanity tops of all-natural Brazilian mercury quartzite in the bathroom.
Forever 21 is forever in Naples for now
The Coastland Center can always use good news.
As first reported by naplesnews.com this past week, the center's Forever 21 store is not on a new list of 178 locations that are closing in the United States by the end of the year.
That's the only one currently operating in Southwest Florida. Seven of them are being eliminated statewide.
The fashion retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last weekend, hobbled by expensive leases and declining mall traffic. It's shutting down 350 locations worldwide.
For mall owners, Forever 21 has been a top tenant, according to CNBC. And it will continue to be a presence at Coastland.
Phil Fernandez writes the In the Know column for the Naples Daily News, focusing on growth and development. Tips or questions? Send them with your name and hometown to firstname.lastname@example.org.