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Naples Design District meeting

After a week-long series of community meetings discussing future possibilities for the Naples Design District, residents received the first look this week at some of the transformative ideas for reimagining that section of the city. 


Miami-based DPZ CoDesign and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency made a final presentation Tuesday night at the River Park Community Center of the top proposals brainstormed in last week’s charrette sessions with residents, retailers, restaurateurs, property owners and other stakeholders in the special district. Originally named for the area between Ninth Street (U.S. 41 North) and 10th Street in the city, the 41-10 Design District has been expanded east from U.S. 41 to Goodlette-Frank Road and from Seventh Avenue North to a portion of Fifth Avenue South on U.S. 41 East. Naples Design District map 


“This is the first time in its entirety it has been presented to the public,” said Jeff Oris, interim manager of the CRA. “This will continue to be massaged. DPZ will provide us with a draft of a final master plan probably in about two or three months. Then, we will go through the approval process and plenty of other opportunities for you to see it and comment on what’s happening as it goes through the process.” The planning advisory board, the CRA advisory board, the CRA board and City Council will see and discuss the ideas, Oris said. “These can become almost anything that we all can dream.”  


One of the boldest proposals suggests repurposing the interior alleys between avenues to create new temporary or permanent uses. The idea is to convert this mostly unused space into outdoor areas for dining, performances, artwork and other public uses such as food trucks and gardens. The goal is to make the district more active and attractive for young people and the next generation, said Galina Tachieva, managing partner of DPZ CoDesign, the consultant team hired by the city.  


Streetscape changes could include new light poles, benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, signage and a reconfiguration of street parking. Some of the proposals include increasing walkability, adding more centralized parking garages, changing the look of Four Corners and the Fifth Avenue South extension on the East Trail, and redesigning George Washington Carver Apartments to create more affordable housing, increased functionality and beautification with the addition of awnings, porches, pergolas and gardens.  


“We’re really midpoint in the process with the completion of this charrette. The objective of the charrette is really to gather input from the community, from all parts of the community, and get ideas as to how we can plan for the future here in the 41-10 area,” said Raymond Christman, CRA board chair and a City Council member. “I think in that regard this has been a great success and we’re looking forward to our consultant gathering all this information over the next three or four months and coming forward with a final plan for the CRA.”  


After working long days in the week-long effort, Tachieva said DPZ will create a draft document with recommendations for the district’s zoning and infrastructure. “We will be back, most likely in the beginning of December, with a draft. Some of the drawings people have seen this week will be posted on the platform. So, they will be able to comment and to discuss,” she said. Residents and business owners are encouraged to continue influencing change in the ongoing dialogue about the Design District by sharing their ideas at SpeakUpNaples.com.  


Stephen Hruby, chair of Naples Design Review Board, thinks the Design District transformation will create a new attraction in the city. “I think one of the things this process has done is focused on the need for diversity in our community, the fact that they have respected the uniqueness of this district and not come up with a rubber stamp design standard,” Hruby said. “I really believe our community needs to be enriched with variety and uniqueness and I think what they’re proposing here is going to be someplace that’s very different than Fifth Avenue, that’s very different than Third Street, very different from most of the new developments that are going on.”  


Tachieva of DPZ thinks the recent community conversation effort went well. “We are happy with the feedback we received from all of Naples,” she said. “We understand the place better. We have learned a lot from the conversations with the people. We believe that the uniqueness and the character of the place need to be preserved. This is a place with very special charm.” 

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