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Lee County

Big Hickory sells

The Bonita Springs Fire Department closed a $6 million deal with the owners of Big Hickory Waterfront Grille & Marina to purchase the property that served as a restaurant for Bonita Beach visitors for decades. The property also includes a commercial center with a Bonita Springs Fire Department substation. Both buildings suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ian.

After calculating that it would take much more than $200,000 to get Big Hickory Waterfront Grille back to the way it once was, the decision was made to sell the property to the Bonita Springs Fire Department, which bought the property for full asking price along with cleanup fees.

In 2016, the department started searching for a place on Big Hickory Island to put a fire station in order to reduce its response times, and acquired a 99-year lease for the substation. Having the substation near the water has proven to be effective in terms of serving the community, as the department has had access to one boat slip on the property.

London Bay’s model residences

London Bay Development has selected interior design firms for three model residences in Grandview Beach, its 11-story tower currently under construction on Estero Island. The models by Romanza Interior Design and Clive Daniel Home will feature various styles while showcasing the panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay, and the project is on target for occupancy in summer 2023.

Margaritaville construction on Fort Myers Beach

Businesses on the beach

Margaritaville Resort’s leaders decided to make its topping off ceremony a larger event for the community, recognizing beach businesses that have reopened despite the devastation of Hurricane Ian.

During the event, Jacki Liszak, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, read off a list of 64 businesses that have reopened. “I’m confident that our island will rebuild,” she says.

Although the 254-room resort’s foundation and concrete walls weathered the storm well, the company lost all interior progress to the storm, setting the project back about three months. Robert Kisabeth, the chief operating officer of Margaritaville’s ownership entity TPI Hospitality, said the resort is hoping to open by the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian.

Town center coming to Cape Coral

A new outdoor town center with homes, shopping, dining and entertainment is planned for Cape Coral. A developer is ready to begin work on a 131-acre outdoor town center called Coral Grove next door to Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon in northwest Cape Coral.

The project will be built in phases; plans are filed with the city currently for the master infrastructure and the first luxury apartment community. Plans for retail, restaurants and more are expected to be submitted later this year.

Collier County

The Dock at Crayton Cove reopens

The Dock at Crayton Cove reopened at the end of 2022 after Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage to the restaurant on Naples Bay. With almost 5 feet of flooding inside the restaurant, it took more than two months for owner Dan Groom and his team to renovate the entire restaurant from the inside of the kitchen to the outside landscaping.

“We used it as an opportunity, since we had to do so much work to get the restaurant back open, to upgrade the space—renovate the bathrooms, renovate the inside of the restaurant and we completely renovated the kitchen,” Groom says.

It was emotional for the staff to see parts of the restaurant—a piece of Naples’ history for almost 50 years—that were unsalvageable. However, Groom continues to see the silver lining in the renovations by looking to the future. He is thankful for how supportive his staff was in the aftermath of the storm with its collective all-hands-on-deck mentality to complete cleanup as quickly as possible.

Naples Airport’s economic impact

Naples Airport supports 5,454 jobs and generates a total economic impact of $781 million annually, according to a study from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The 2022 Florida Aviation Economic Impact Study—which used the 2021 calendar year to quantify $336 billion in economic impact associated with more than 125 public-use airports, 11 military installations, off-airport air cargo services and aviation-reliant industries in the state—shows a 77% increase from the agency’s previous valuation of Naples Airport’s annual economic impact of more than $440 million in 2019.

Orange Blossom Ranch units planned

Collier County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the 44-acre Orange Blossom Ranch Planned Development project directly east of Palmetto Ridge High School, on the north side of Oil Well Road.

Denver-based developer Quarterra sought to change zoning from solely commercial to mixed-use to accommodate up to 400 housing units on 17 acres next to a grocery store-anchored shopping center under construction.

At a December planning commission meeting, the developer proposed to make 10% of the planned units income restricted to 120% of the county’s average median income. By request of the planning commission, a proposal to lower the cap to 100% of the county’s $98,000 average median income for a family of four was made to county commissioners, which would put monthly rent at about $2,200 for a two-bedroom.

Naples Winter Wine Festival

The 23rd annual Naples Winter Wine Festival raised a record-breaking amount of nearly $26 million from the live auction in February at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburon, and just over $600,000 through its online auction. The 50 luxurious auction lots included rare collections of some of the world’s most sought-after wines, exotic travel adventures, limited-edition cars and unique experiences. Every dollar raised under the auction tent funds the festival’s founding organization, Naples Children & Education Foundation, which seeks to transform the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children.

This year’s bids bring the total amount raised for NCEF to about $269 million since the wine festival’s inception in 2001. The proceeds support more than 50 community nonprofit organizations that have provided more than 300,000 local children with services and resources.

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