Isles of Capri residents remain steadfast in opposing a proposal to rezone commercial parcels for mixed-use development that would open the door for residential condominiums—specifically, three luxury high-rise towers up to 168 feet tall—to be built on a tiny island just north of Marco Island.
A succession of local residents spoke out Thursday night against the rezoning plans during a second neighborhood information meeting hosted by professional planner D. Wayne Arnold of Q. Grady Minor and Associates and land-use attorney Richard D. Yovanovich of Coleman, Yovanovich & Koester, representing FCC Beach & Yacht LLC, the owner of the commercial property. State records show the president of FCC Beach & Yacht LLC is Aubrey J. Ferrao, founder, president and chief executive officer of The Gulf Bay Group of Companies, a Naples-based company behind the development of the nearby 4,000-acre master-planned community of Fiddler’s Creek and Marco Beach Ocean Resort.
The Fiddler’s Creek developers have submitted formal applications to Collier County seeking approval of a growth management plan amendment and a mixed-use planned unit development rezoning to allow the development of up to 108 multifamily dwelling units, a marina with up to 64 wet slips, 258 covered boat storage slips, a ships store and dockmaster, 6,000 square feet of commercial or office land uses, and a restaurant and private club limited to 200 seats. The property in question totals about 5.3 acres on the north and south side of Capri Boulevard on Isles of Capri’s “business island,” the second of four islands off Collier Boulevard near Marco. Some of the boat slips already exist on that property.
Project renderings show condo towers of at least 13 stories. Because the entire island is one- or two-story homes except for a taller boat storage building at the Tarpon Club Marina, the proposed residential towers would not be fitting, said Isles of Capri resident Mike Cox. “This doesn’t fit at all. This would be like putting a SpaceX launch pad in the middle of Port Royal,” Cox said. “It just doesn’t fit.”
Capri Community Inc., a not-for-profit social organization on the Isles, agrees that the project is not compatible with the island paradise. “If this is allowed to go through, we will be consumed by this massive development. Our small island community will never be the same,” the website warns.
Jacob Winge, president of East Naples Civic & Commerce, opposes the idea of converting the only available C-3 commercial space there to residential on islands that have always been his family’s second home and where he grew up kayaking, fishing and boating. “I firmly believe that this is a very gross oversight and use of our growth management plan,” Winge said. “We have these plans for a reason and I hope that our planning commission and our county commissioners have a backbone to say no to developers.”
The development request will be heard next by the Collier planning commission before being sent to county commissioners. It will take a super-majority—four of the five commissioners—to change the growth management plan and rezone the property. The proposal is not on the agenda yet for a future county meeting, where public hearings will be scheduled.
One resident asked why the property’s owners, who have owned the acreage for more than 25 years, waited this long to develop it. “The timing of implementing this change has been driven, obviously, by the market,” replied attorney Yovanovich. “In ‘08 and ‘09 we experienced the downturn in the market. It took a while for multifamily to come back.”