Del’s Corner becomes official Friday morning after a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the intersection of Thomasson Drive and Bayshore Drive in East Naples. The 10 a.m. event will take place at the site of the former Del’s 24 Hour Store, which operated for more than 55 years at 2802 Thomasson Drive.
In 2016, county commissioners voted unanimously to name the intersection Del’s Corner to recognize Del Ackerman for his many years of community service and for operating his landmark store there around the clock since 1963. The board proclaimed Jan. 24, 2017, as Del Ackerman Day. Ackerman died in August 2019 at the age of 83 and his longtime store closed a year later.
Collier County purchased the store and adjoining property last November for more than $2 million from Theresa Ackerman, Del’s widow. The 3,600-square-foot retail store and an adjoining 3,920-square-foot wholesale warehouse will be demolished in early 2022 for future redevelopment on that southeastern corner, said Debrah Forester, director of the Bayshore Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). “Our plan has been to demolish it and do a highest-and-best-use study, seek public input and then go from there,” Forester said.
Del’s Corner recently was upgraded as part of a Thomasson Drive enhancement project funded by the Bayshore Beautification Municipal Services Taxing District (MSTU). The $6 million project consisted of a roundabout, 6-foot-wide sidewalks, improved drainage, bike lanes, decorative street lighting, signage and Florida-friendly landscaping along Thomasson Drive from Orchard Lane to Hamilton Avenue. Ackerman was instrumental in having the final design include an American flag, which the community gathered in June to hoist for the first time. The 8-by-12-foot flag flies on a 40-foot flagpole in the center of the roundabout.
The public is invited to attend Friday’s event. Limited parking will be available at 4825 Bayshore Drive. Speakers will include Del’s widow as well as County Commissioner Penny Taylor.