Sunday, October 2, 2016

Restoring Bayshore's image: Developers, business owners investing in East Naples community

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Efforts to redevelop the Bayshore community in East Naples haven’t gone unnoticed. In recent years, improvements in infrastructure, crime rates and beautification have gradually transformed the area. With more projects in the works, Bayshore can expect to see even more changes in the coming months.
Flowers, shrubs and trees now adorn areas of Bayshore and Thomasson drives, and Lunar and Bayview streets. On Pineland Avenue, storm water improvements were recently completed to deter flooding. And on Bayshore Drive, visitors flock to Naples Botanical Gardens, which welcomed 217,000 visitors last year, and enjoy meals at several restaurants such as Taqueria San Julian and Three60 Market.
Rebecca Maddox opened the latter eatery in 2012 after spending two years renovating an inoperable building, which now serves as a lime-green beacon of light at the intersection of Bayview and Bayshore, next to Haldeman Creek.
Three60 Market offers a waterfront dining experience, where customers can enjoy breakfast, lunch and a large assortment of wine, cheeses and baked goods.
“(Bayshore Drive) needed to be gentrified. At one point…it was where all the drugs and prostitutes were and most of Naples did not come to this street,” Maddox said. “Most people did not believe (Three60 Market) would work because it wasn’t the right side of town.”
Contrary to people’s beliefs, Maddox pushed forward with a dream of starting the next SoHo, where dozens of unique businesses would line the art-filled streets, serving as a local hangout spot for young and old.
But she can’t do it alone, she said, and hopes to serve as a catalyst for business owners to set up shop in Bayshore.
“I thought if I did this and the botanical was there, that would give people enough courage to start businesses here. But it hasn’t quite yet. We still have a lot of people who…think it’s too risky,” Maddox said.
Frank Garofalo agrees.
It was a little over a year ago when he opened the doors to Baci Pizzeria, located at 2364 U.S. 41 East.
Baci, known for its Brooklyn-style pizza, offers an authentic Italian dining experience in Bayshore.
Born in Italy, Garofalo and his family immigrated to New York when he was a little boy, and settled down in Brooklyn, where he went on to own several restaurants before moving to Naples.
While he’s relatively new to the area, he sees a lot of potential in Bayshore, despite its reputation.
“I think it’s going to be the next Fifth Avenue. Everyone talks so bad about Bayshore. It has a bad reputation, a lot of drugs…but it’s nothing like that…it’s a great investment there,” he said.
Penny Taylor, the Collier County commissioner for District 4, said Bayshore was considered “unsafe” before the Collier County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was established.
“Because of the distance from the Gulf, the redevelopment has taken some time. It has been seen as an unsafe area and wasn’t zoned for redevelopment,” Taylor said.
Established in 2000, the CRA uses tax increment financing to fund redevelopment projects in two areas within the county: Bayshore/Gateway Triangle and Immokalee, according to Kate Albers, public information coordinator for Collier County.
While Bayshore has seen many improvements, there’s still room for growth.
“We certainly think the projects coming in are exciting and will bring more people and more residents to the area and continue to make Bayshore the beautiful, thriving place that it’s become,” Albers said.
Adam Kelley plans to brew up a new business — Bayshore Brewgarden.
The microbrewery and garden will occupy a 6,000-square-foot building, formerly known as Small Engine World, located at 3555 Bayshore Drive.
“We hope to be a gathering place for locals and tourists alike,” Kelley said.
He plans to brew up a variety of beers and sodas, and offer non-alcoholic beverages for patrons under 21.
Design plans include space for food truck parking and indoor and outdoor pet-friendly seating revolving around a lush garden at the rear of the building.
In order to keep his patrons safe, Kelley plans to implement a designated driver program that will offer free non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers.
The brewery is a family affair.
While Kelley plans to run the daily operations of the brewery, his parents, Lois and Bill Kelley, will help with logistics.
“I’ve been a home brewer as a hobby,” Adam Kelley said, adding that his dad was the one who noticed the lack of breweries in Southwest Florida.
Adam Kelley was living in Colorado at the time and moved back to Naples, where he’s originally from, and found himself wanting “to turn a hobby into a passion.”
He’s now studying to be a master brewer and hopes to put his knowledge to use.
The brewery is currently at the last leg of the development phase, but no building permits have been submitted yet. If everything goes as planned, Adam Kelley hopes to open up shop in February in time for Valentine’s Day.
Something else is brewing in Bayshore waters.
Maddox is in talks with Collier County to build a family-friendly culinary park on a vacant commercial lot she purchased for $1.1 million at the intersection of Bayshore Drive and Becca Avenue, across the creek from her restaurant.
The project is still awaiting approval. Maddox is working with David Corban, a local architect and plans to meet with county officials next week in hopes of moving the project further along.
She has big plans for the park, and said community response has been nothing but positive.
The park will serve as a beautiful gathering spot for families to enjoy food from local food truck vendors, with dockside fresh fish, a tiki bar and plenty of outdoor seating and parking spots.
Several home developers are also setting their sights on Bayshore.
Mattamy Homes plans to build 270 condo units at the northwest corner of Bayshore and Thomasson drives. It’s not yet known when construction will begin, Albers said.
There will also be several single-family homes built on land that was formerly home to decrepit mobile homes.
A new Montessori school hopes to fill the need for more educational options in the area.
The Garden School, which is early in the development stage, will reside on Bayshore Drive. The school’s staff already has plans to work with the local botanical garden on various programs, Albers said.
Residents can also expect roadway improvements.
The CRA is working to complete a design plan to improve Thomasson Drive. Additions include landscaping, lighting and bike and walking paths between Bay Street and Dominion Drive.
Also in the design phase: an easy-access pathway to Sugden Regional Park, starting at Bayshore Drive and making its way through CRA-owned property to the park.

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