| Naples Daily News
Behind the Headlines Oct. 25th 2020: Home Sweet Home – Sand Dollar Awards 2020
Home sweet home has never been so sweet with the 2020 Sand Dollar awards.
Dirt will soon start flying on a long-anticipated mixed-use, high-rise development in East Naples.
Local developers Jerry Starkey and Fred Pezeshkan have announced they’ve closed on the land for the upscale project they plan to build in the Bayshore/Gateway Triangle redevelopment area.
The land purchase from Collier County closed on Nov. 13.
The sale of the five-acre property followed the removal of a cell tower, which held up the closing for more than two years.
The land stretches between Davis Boulevard to the north and U.S. 41 East to the south in an area known as the Gateway Triangle for its pizza-like shape.
The proposed development features a mix of housing, retail and entertainment in up to three towers, each as tall as about 15 stories.
The zoning allows for up to 377 residential units, 228 hotel rooms and a maximum of 200,000 square feet of commercial uses, which could include restaurants, coffee shops, bars and a movie theater.
In case you missed it: Closing on land for tower project in East Naples delayed
In a news release, Starkey said: “We spent the last four years designing a mixed-use community that will favorably impact this area for years to come and look forward to beginning the demolition of the old existing buildings and site work early in the new year.”
The development, dubbed Metropolitan Naples, has been designed as a place to live, work and play.
Whether the development will include a hotel is still up in the air, with the hospitality industry still reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on travel and tourism.
“We believe we may indeed have a well-known hotel, but we have to be realistic about that market,” Starkey said in a phone interview. “As the market improves for hospitality, then the likelihood that we will have a hotel will be improved as well.”
Humphreys & Partners Architects, based in Dallas, has been tapped to coordinate the community’s overall design.
Each of the three buildings will have retail and restaurants on the ground floor, which will be designed in such a way as to hide the project’s internal parking garages.
Luxury residences, Class A office space — or space built to the highest standards — and potentially a high-end hotel will be built over the retail shops and restaurants.
In a statement, Pezeshkan said: “Metropolitan Naples is an excellent example of a public-private partnership working to improve Collier County. I have lived in Naples for over 40 years and believe this mixed-use community will indeed stimulate high-quality redevelopment to the east and significantly increase property values, just as the Andres Duany Plan stimulated high-quality redevelopment along Fifth Avenue South over the last 30 years.”
He added: “There is really no limit on success when all the parties work together as has been the case here.”
More development news: Collier County Planning Commission splits vote on controversial One Naples project
Development of the triangle property has long been seen as a key to stimulating redevelopment in the larger area along U.S. 41, east of Fifth Avenue South.
Starkey and Pezeshkan won the Collier County Redevelopment Agency’s design competition to create an iconic community that would be transformative and stimulate redevelopment in the run-down area. The longtime developers signed an agreement to purchase the property back in 2016, contingent upon the removal of the cell tower and the award of certain entitlements.
The developers offered the county $6.4 million for the property during a competitive bid process, and paid $500,000 to help cover the cost of moving the cell tower.
The duo has already found a development team to build the first tower in the multi-million dollar project, which will include luxury rental apartments, along with one or two upscale restaurants on the first floor. However, they’re not ready to share the details of that agreement just yet.
According to Pezeshkan and Starkey, the apartments will be “a lifestyle offering unavailable in Naples or Southwest Florida,” and they “promise to be a big success.”
Between the two of them, Starkey and Pezeshkan have developed many mixed-use, residential, commercial, hospitality, and industrial developments, not only in the Naples area, but throughout Florida and Texas, as well as in several other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
The two men agree that “nothing is more satisfying than investing and creating something special in one’s own hometown.”
More details about Metropolitan Naples will be shared over the coming months as plans for specific components of the community are finalized. It’s likely that one of the two remaining buildings will be a luxury residential tower, Starkey said.
“There has been a tremendous amount of interest because of the proximity to Fifth Avenue downtown and to the beach,” he said. “It’s really a one-of-a-kind location that won’t be replicated elsewhere in town.”
With parking mostly hidden, the project will have a beautiful streetscape, he said.
“There will be a good amount of outdoor open space and public art,” Starkey said.
The site will have to be cleared and roads, utilities and other infrastructure will have to be built before vertical construction can begin. Construction is not expected to begin until the fall of next year.
The land sits next door to a 2-acre property once targeted for a luxury condo-hotel called Trio, which failed.
Another developer has the high-profile site at the corner of U.S. 41 and Davis Boulevard under contract.
However, the multimillion-dollar deal is anything but certain.
Whether the deal closes could depend on whether Collier County agrees to provide tax rebates to the interested buyer, David Parker, of developer P6NT LLC.
Last month, commissioners voted 4-1 to bring the developer’s request for incentives back for an in-depth discussion at a future meeting, with Penny Taylor casting a firm vote of no.
Taylor argued the once-sleepy Bayshore/Gateway Triangle redevelopment area has awakened, attracting projects without the need for county incentives.
While other commissioners voted to bring Parker’s request for incentives back for a vote, they all did so with reservations — and caution flags.
Parker hopes to be back before county commissioners on Dec. 8 for a vote on the incentives.
“We just want to be treated fairly,” he said.