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Collier County Commissioners1940

A new residential development project at the southern parcel of Grand Lely Drive and Collier Boulevard was approved by the Collier County Commissioners on Tuesday. Up to 184 residential units are planned to be built to the east of the Saratoga and Verandas communities and south of the commercial Stock Plaza. 

The developer behind the project, Davis Development, is an Atlanta-based company that also does their own construction and management. Their first project in the Naples area is Founder’s Square at Collier Boulevard and Immokalee Road, which is near completion.  

The residential development will consist of five two-story townhomes along Celeste Drive that will be buffered by landscaping. A three-story multifamily unit will be built closer to Collier Boulevard near the center of the community.  

Originally, the project called for four-story units but was adjusted in response to the three neighborhood information meetings. Commissioner Rick LoCastro praised the developer for their work with the surrounding neighborhoods by listening to their concerns.  

“I’m so proud of what the Lely community did, because they embraced the process, they took ownership of the process,” LoCastro said. “They didn’t leave it up to the planning commission and the commissioners to be good guys or bad guys. Also, they were open to educating themselves, and I don’t mean that in a kind of derogatory way, but really learning the difference about traffic and the difference between commercial and residential.”

Ensuring safe and smooth traffic flow has posed a challenge through the planning of the project. To enter the community, there will be a right-in only access from Grand Lely Drive, while residents will have to exit through a right-out only on Collier Boulevard. As requested by the surrounding communities, there will be no vehicular access from inside the community to Celeste Drive except for emergency access. 

As the current plan shows, to get back driving north onto Collier requires going a little more than half a mile south to the entrance of Verona Walk to make a U-turn. This poses the question of whether an exit onto Grand Lely Drive should be constructed. 

“I think when we review their plans, we should look at adding a right-out instead of just a right-in (on Grand Lely Drive) and we’ll look at their numbers and see how that fits in within the design,” Collier County Chief Traffic Operation Engineer Anthony Khawaja said. “This would allow somebody exiting the site to make a left and then be able to go north on Collier instead of going all the way south, make a U-turn on Collier which is not desirable, and going north.”  

After discussion between the developer and council, it was agreed to add into the ordinance that a right-out onto Grand Lely would be permitted if there is enough space and it is a safe distance from the intersection on Collier Boulevard.  

The commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the new development. LoCastro expressed that he thinks that despite the influx of new residential developments, this is the ideal project for this parcel. 

“This wasn’t about a greedy developer that didn’t want to build a strip mall and wanted to put it in apartments,” LoCastro said. “There’s already a strip mall across the street with Skillets at a bunch of other stores, some that are really struggling. You know, this is smack dab in my district. I have an outlet store right down the mall that’s been vacant for a really long time and there’s a lot of commercial options.” 

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