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Lee County

Luxury storage

The Sanibel Toy Box, a luxury storage facility for boats, cars and whatever people can’t fit in a home garage, will break ground in south Fort Myers in early 2023. Chris Beane grew up on Sanibel Island and began envisioning the Sanibel Toy Box in 2018. In October 2019, Beane’s company, TYBX4 LLC, purchased the property for $1.1 million.

Beane’s development team, which includes GMA Architects, Stevens Construction as the builder and LSI Companies as the broker, received approval from the South Florida Water Management District to build. The 55,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in early 2024 and will be on almost 5 acres at 16998 McGregor Blvd.

Its 44 storage units will range from 1,100 to 1,500 square feet and have 14-by-14-foot doors. The concrete block walls will resist winds of up to 170 mph, and the facility will be built 12 feet above ground level, safely above where Hurricane Ian flooded the area.

The price will be about $400 per square foot, with the smaller units selling for about $440,000.

Reopening on Sanibel

A pair of devastating hurricanes have bookended The Great White Grill’s past and present. Owner John Nader opened Sanibel Island’s only authentic pizzeria/sports bar about four months after Hurricane Charley in 2004. On Sept. 27, the eve of Hurricane Ian, Nader announced his Pittsburgh sports-themed bar would be closed for a couple of days. More than two months later, it was still closed because of the Category 4 storm damage.

As of December, Nader’s renovations were near completion and he was targeted to reopen in January on at least a takeout-only basis.

He rebuilt the walk-in fridge, which chills the 30-plus beers on tap at 37 degrees. The bar normally has up to five employees, and he plans to bring some of them back as soon as he can open to dine-in customers. Nader, a working owner, says he did 75% of the cooking himself.

The Great White Grill fared well compared to most Sanibel businesses in that it only had a few inches, instead of a few feet, of storm surge flooding inside the bar at 2440 Palm Ridge Road.

Audiology Center debut

FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers unveiled its Audiology Center as part of its one-year anniversary celebration of its clinic in North Fort Myers. The Audiology Center features an experienced team capable of identifying, diagnosing and treating all types of hearing disorders, including hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises, illness and injury.

Audiology joins a growing list of services available at FYZICAL North Fort Myers, including orthopedic rehabilitation, balance therapy, fitness and wellness and neurological rehabilitation.

FYZICAL North Fort Myers is at 16251 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 3.

Downtown distillery

After losing his job in 2020, Tom Anstead decided to start his own distilling business in downtown Bonita Springs. Devil’s Isle Distillery is named after a trip Anstead took to Bermuda, which was originally known as the “Isle of Devils” by Spanish explorers for its treacherous weather.

The distillery opened in July off Old 41 Road. Anstead was inspired for the business after working with a friend in Pennsylvania who owns a distillery. “It seemed like a fun way to spend my time. Distilling seemed fun. People are happy when they’re talking about it, coming and enjoying it,” Anstead says.

Up until 2021, Florida distilleries were only allowed to sell their product and merchandise at their gift shops. Now, the law changed so that customers can enjoy mixed drinks from what’s produced at the distillery. Visitors of Devil’s Isle are able to sit either at a bar or in the lounge with couches surrounded by a glass wall to view all the equipment creating the alcohol.

Distilleries are hard to find in Southwest Florida, with none being in the Naples area and a few in northern Lee County. Anstead said he made a good choice when picking Bonita Springs for his business, and thinks it will continue to thrive in the future as he aims to start distilling gin and rum products.

Collier County

Expanding Naples Zoo

Naples Zoo awarded Naples-based Waltbillig & Hood its capital improvement project to increase the zoo’s capacity to meet its education and conservation mission at the 100-year-old park. The $14 million Finding Florida New Entrance and Visitor Complex expansion plans include a new entrance to the zoo, a volunteer center and a complete upgrade of Alligator Bay.

The 4-acre complex was inspired by the old Florida lifestyle and designed by GLMV Architecture, a national zoo and aquarium architecture firm. The centerpiece of the design is the Hamill Family Education Center, poised to be the environmental education hub in Southwest Florida. The Finding Florida New Entrance and Visitor Complex will also feature new exhibits with native species in the Ann and Senator Rick Scott flamingo and roseate spoonbill exhibit.

Additional components of the zoo’s capital campaign expansion project include new animal exhibits in the South American Trail experience and immersive grassland and rainforest exhibits.

The projects have been started and will take approximately two years to complete, with the South American Trail Experience expected to be completed in early 2023.

Redesigning Naples Pier

The Naples Pier, a 1,000-foot-long boardwalk that has been a landmark of Collier County for more than a century, sustained significant damages when Hurricane Ian struck Southwest Florida in September. Now, city staff is working to make the pier a favorite gathering place for residents and visitors again.

The city hired engineering consultants Turrell, Hall & Associates to estimate damages and provide input on how to move forward. The property faces a major $6 million to $8 million facelift, as 30% of the pier is no longer visible.

KP Pezeshkan, vice president of Geis Companies, presented a complete redesign concept to Naples City Council in December featuring increased seating, including benches that face the water, 12-foot-wide bump-outs and lower fishing decks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction permit, but any improvements to the pier, such as the ones presented, would have to go back to the Army Corps for a permit modification, which will lengthen the rebuilding process. Despite this, Council is in favor of pursuing a redesign of the entire pier.

Short-term rental rules

Take Back Marco, a political action committee, created a short-term rental registration ordinance that was passed by Marco City Council. The referendum passed at the polls in August with 57% in favor, and council approved the ordinance on its first and second readings.

The ordinance was created to enforce regulations for those who rent their homes for less than 30 days more than three times a year. The city may need to use money from the general fund to kickstart the program and to fund the registration software, which will cost $90,000 annually. Council agreed to prohibit use of state taxpayer funds to enforce the rental registration.

Noise standards are also a significant aspect of the ordinance, with stricter rules for short-term rentals than for regular single-family households. In short-term rentals, noise should not be heard for more than 60 seconds by any adjacent or non-adjacent property, including human, animal, electronically generated and mechanically generated sounds.

Aquablation therapy in SWFL

NCH Healthcare System became the first Southwest Florida health care system to offer Aquablation therapy for treating lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Aquablation therapy is an advanced, minimally invasive treatment that uses water delivered with robotic precision to provide best-in-class and long-lasting symptom relief with low rates of irreversible complications, regardless of prostate size or shape. It is performed by the AquaBeam Robotic System, the first Food and Drug Administration-cleared surgical robot utilizing automated tissue resection to treat lower urinary tract symptoms due to BPH.

It combines real-time, multi-dimensional imaging, automated robotic technology and heat-free waterjet ablation technology for targeted, controlled and immediate removal of prostate tissue.

Charlotte County

Bungalow retreat

Solstice, a new retreat resort and event space, opened in January on property formerly occupied by Cabana Jones vacation rentals. Robbin Webb sold her business in Virginia before investing in real estate a couple of years ago, most recently purchasing the half-acre property for Solstice about 5 minutes from downtown Punta Gorda.

The resort offers six bungalows, each with its own kitchen and bathroom and each themed around tropical fruit. While visitors won’t see a bunch of oranges in the Orange bungalow, it is apparent the fruits inspired some aspects of design. The other bungalows are called the Avocado, Grapefruit, Mango, Guava and Papaya, and range from a starting cost of $199 to $252 per night.

Reservations can also be made for the entire venue, accommodating 17 people, starting at $1,590 a night. Individual bungalows have a two-night minimum requirement for reservations, with a three-night minimum for the entire property for intimate weddings, retreats, reunions or other gatherings.

Amenities at the retreat resort include a waterfall pool with a hot tub grotto, a smoothie/margarita bar, daily breakfast and yoga, multiple hammocks, hidden meditation spaces and a large tiki hut event space.

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