Collier County Commissioners approved site plans Tuesday for a 336-unit, four-story apartment complex called The Haven at North Naples. The 28-acre property at the southwest quadrant of Airport-Pulling Road and Orange Blossom Drive is shared with The Carlisle Naples senior living community and is across the street from the Collier County Public Library Headquarters branch and wraps around the Italian American Foundation.
South Carolina-based Johnson Development Associates will be using 14 of the 28 acres for The Haven at North Naples, which won’t be affiliated with The Carlisle other than an agreement to share some parking spaces. Johnson Development, which also developed Lago Apartments off Radio Road, is requesting a Growth Management Plan amendment to allow 76 income-restricted units, with 38 being restricted to below 100% of the county’s average median income of $98,600 for a family of four and 38 below 80%.
“The commission and the community has asked for the private sector to play a role in addressing this affordable housing issue,” land-use attorney Rich Yovanovich said. “This developer is going to play a role. They’re going to develop a Class-A project similar to what they’ve already done in the community.”
When the project was presented to the county planning commission in April, there were plans to include an emergency vehicle entry off Orange Blossom. But because of traffic concerns from nearby residents, the entryway for emergency vehicles is now proposed south of the property through Bear Creek apartments. There will be two public entries off Airport-Pulling, one of which will be shared with The Carlisle.
Despite the amendments, residents such as Dave Renner, who spoke on behalf of the Orange Blossom-Airport Road Alliance, said the proposed development is a bad fit for the surrounding community.
“There’s a balanced solution here. What we want is responsible growth,” Renner said. “We’re fine with something going on this property. We’re fine with apartments going on this property. We’re fine with affordable housing on this property, but we want something to be cohesive and consistent and compatible with the neighborhood in both height, density and character.”
Renner said traffic will become worse on that strip of Airport-Pulling, which has the third-highest crash rate in the county.
He also referenced the proposed Lutgert Medical Center and a self-storage facility just north of The Haven. “The number of cars both these projects will bring we think is going to be a disaster,” he said.
Jennifer Palmer lives 300 feet from the proposed site of The Haven and was concerned the increase in density will impact the safety of her children.
“The walkability of this area is truly something special and must be preserved,” she said. “I am concerned about adding this high-density apartment complex and the other proposed developments here. I know that it will change what is now a harmonious area. This will affect quality of life.”
Mara Foley with Habitat for Humanity of Collier County said the apartment complex is a good opportunity to bring affordable housing to the area, and she appreciates the commitment to 100% and 80% of the average median income when many developers commit closer to 120%.
“If this project is not approved as proposed, I find it hard to believe that somebody else will be able to make the numbers work and that we’ll have affordable housing on this site,” Foley said. “It’s a great location close to jobs, keeping traffic down and keeping folks where they work and play.”
Planning and Zoning Director Mike Bosi said although this project will not reduce the number of car trips in the area, it will reduce the time people spend driving, especially with the workforce housing aspect.
“We import 45,000 people a day to fill the economic needs of this county. They drive from outside the county toward wherever their workplace destination is and back, those are long trip legs. What we’re trying to do is … shorten a percentage of those, and we feel that this has the opportunity to provide for community benefit within the project,” Bosi said.
The concerns of density from the residents resonated with Commissioner Chris Hall, who said although the affordable housing component is desirable, it doesn’t change that more than 250 market-rate units are proposed on 14 acres.
“I’m willing to put my faith out there that there’s somebody else that’s willing to build more affordable units on that 10 acres, and I’m willing to be a little bit more patient about it,” Hall said. “With those thoughts, I’m going to oppose this project based on what the people have wanted and be patient enough to think that there’s somebody else that’s going to come along there and put more affordable units on here.”
Commissioner Burt Saunders requested the developer make a contribution to the county’s affordable housing trust fund. Yovanovich agreed to contribute $1,000 per market-rate unit, totaling more than $250,000.
The commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the project and the additional contribution to the affordable housing fund, with Hall opposing.
Commissioner Rick LoCastro said having a mix of market-rate and income-restricted units is more desirable for the community than what would become of a project made up of all affordable housing.
“This isn’t just an affordable housing project, it does other things,” LoCastro said. “There’s going to be people who want to live in this community, and they’re going to rent the more expensive apartment because they want to be at ground zero where there’s a lot of commercial activity and a lot of jobs.”