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More businesses are coming to Ave Maria Park of Commerce, which has a new retail strip under construction on more than 4 acres in Ave Maria.  

The easternmost retail center in Collier County broke ground this spring on the eastern edge of Ave Maria Boulevard in the fast-growing master-planned community. The 22,482-square-foot retail center will be anchored by Sunshine Ace Hardware and feature an NCH immediate care center, a Dunkin’ drive-thru, a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop, a pizzeria and other small businesses.  

This multiunit retail plaza will fill one of three undeveloped tracts immediately south of the existing businesses in the commerce park. Businesses already operating in that commercial area include Mobil Mart and gas station, Angels’ Touch Hand Car Wash, Fellowship Church, Oil Well Craft Beer, Dog Gone Cleaners Grooming & Pet Boutique, DaVita Dialysis, Mindful Masterpieces and StorQuest Self Storage.  

Doing business as Ave Maria Development LLLP, Barron Collier Cos. is the owner and developer of Ave Maria Park of Commerce. General contractor Peninsula Engineering began site construction on the new retail strip in late March, and the project has an estimated completion date in late October.  

Cee Cee Marinelli, vice president of commercial real estate for Barron Collier Cos., said she has a huge list of prospective tenants for commercial properties in Ave Maria.  

“Retail follows rooftops,” Marinelli said. “We kind of hit this critical mass level where now commercial is underserved. We have a list of people trying to open businesses, and now it’s just us trying to keep up with the demand.”  

Although tenants for two 1,200-square-foot units have not been signed yet, Marinelli has many business owners already waiting for those spots.  

On the commercial strip’s southern end, NCH Healthcare System will have a 6,000-square-foot unit for its immediate care center. The medical center will be staffed by board certified physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses who will be available during extended hours seven days a week to offer on-site services ranging from treating minor cuts and colds to infections and physicals.  

Once established in Ave Maria, NCH will evolve to meet residents’ needs, said Erin Raney, chief administrative officer of the NCH Physician Group. “As we grow, we’ll define what the community needs, whether it’s providing cardiology once or twice a month for residents or pediatrics for families,” Raney said.  

The Dunkin’ coffee and doughnut chain will have an eatery with a double drive-thru on the center’s northern endcap. Two other chains, Cold Stone Creamery and Ledo Pizza, will each have 1,200-square-foot units. The new ice cream parlor will be Cold Stone’s fourth location in Collier County, while it’s the first pizzeria franchise in Southwest Florida for Maryland-based Ledo. The pizza chain has more than 100 locations in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern states, including two so far in Florida.  

Ledo franchisee Scott Taggart and his wife, Colleen, are relocating to Ave Maria from Maryland, where they owned and operated the pizzeria for 25 years. “We are excited to move to Ave Maria and open a new pizzeria in town. We know the town is growing and we want to grow with it,” Taggart said. “One of my main goals is to continue giving back to my community and providing leadership opportunities to youth wanting to be in this type of business.”  

Sunshine Ace Hardware is taking five of the center’s 13 units, but its 8,000-square-foot store will still be smaller than its average location. For comparison, the hardware store that Sunshine Ace launched in April to anchor The Plaza at Founders Square is more than 20,000 square feet.  

“For 65 years, Sunshine Ace Hardware has grown alongside the community, and as the population moves farther inland from the coast, we will proudly join them,” said Sunshine Ace Hardware President Michael Wynn. “If you own a home near Ave Maria or manage a business there, you want the helpful convenience Sunshine Ace Hardware is known for when you need paint, grilling accessories or a home repair item.”  

This first full-service hardware store in Ave Maria is expected to open in 2024. Additional lots in Ave Maria Park of Commerce have not been spoken for yet by restaurants and other businesses, Marinelli said.  

“We are kind of still evaluating those outparcels,” she said. “It will be more retail-restaurant services, maybe medical.”  

An additional development, Arthrex Commerce Park, also is underway off Oil Well Road near the Arthrex Manufacturing Inc. plant in Ave Maria, Marinelli said.  

“It’s about 150 acres of undeveloped land,” she said. “There we have plans for a 300-unit apartment complex that we will be joint venturing on. We’ve sold 15 acres for an assisted and independent living facility. There’ll be a substantial medical campus, as well as additional industrial and retail outparcels that we’re working right now to currently design and permit the infrastructure. So probably within 18 months, we’ll start seeing some construction down there as well.”

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