Collier Commissioner Approve Gateway Triangle

Collier County commissioners approved a deal Tuesday morning to sell a rundown section of East Naples and develop it into a luxury entertainment and shopping center with two tall towers.

Davis Boulevard and US-41 is a main entry to downtown Naples from the east, but it’s not five acres of mostly abandoned lots and storage units.

Real Estate Partners International plans to build an 11-story hotel with a rooftop restaurant and an 18-story condo building. The space will look somewhat similar to the Mercato shops in North Naples, with retail, bars and restaurants at street level.

Still, the multimillion-dollar project is not set in stone.

The developer has 120 days to get support from the Naples Airport Authority to build the two towers because the project site is near the flight path to the Naples Municipal Airport.

A multi-million-dollar project could transform a rundown section of East Naples into a luxury shopping and entertainment destination.

The Gateway Triangle at US-41 and Davis Boulevard is known as the main entry into downtown Naples, but doesn’t quite play the part these days because it’s full of parking lots, an auto shop that has since moved and storage units.

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Real Estate Partners International wants to build an 11-story hotel with a rooftop restaurant, an 18-story condominium building, a boutique movie theater, and a number of restaurants, bars and retail spaces.

The proposal has some residents concerned, especially about the height of the proposed towers.

“I think it could be a neat development if they kept it quaint,” said Heather De La Torre.

The renderings, though, are anything but.

The proposed buildings are modern, the architecture is unlike any complex in East Naples and it would be packed into a narrow five-acre strip.

“I’ll be able to stand here in my driveway and see a towering building,” De La Torre said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be 18 stories. I think that’s a little massive.”

Collier County has been trying to sell or revitalize the land for years, and it will have to approve a zoning variance for the developer to build that high.

“The 18-story I’m iffy about because that’s quite high and I’m surprised they’re even thinking about it this close to the airport,” said nearby resident Edward Joslin.

The green light for zoning could come as soon as Tuesday, when commissioners will consider the proposal at a 9 a.m. meeting, but that still won’t mean the project is a go. The developer will have 120 days to get approval from the airport authority to construct the towers. Or, the developer can also walk away anytime within those 120 days.

Regardless of approvals, Joslin’s has other concerns.

“Traffic might be a problem with that much development there in a confined area because they aren’t really doing a whole lot of improvements to the roads,” he said. “There isn’t much you can do I don’t think.”

Despite plans for a parking garage, critics argue there isn’t enough space for cars to flow easily on to Davis or 41 from the lot.

Still, if the kinks can be worked out, residents are on board for change.

“That place has been a disaster – that triangle – for years,” Joslin said. “The buildings most of the time are vacant and it’s just been an eyesore. You need something there that’s going to stand out showing Naples.”

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