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Q: There is a coming soon sign for Guitar Center of Naples at the location next to the Lexus dealership where Lucky’s Market was. Any news on this opening? — Scott J. Lepore, Naples  

A: Guitar Center is planning to open a store at Gateway Shoppes at North Bay most likely in January or February, said Brett Burgher, executive director of national leasing for Sarasota-based Benderson Development, the developer and owner of that retail center in North Naples. 

“Unfortunately, don’t have a date yet,” Burgher messaged. “They’re still in for their building permit. As soon as that’s issued, we’ll have a better idea.” 

The California-based musical instrument retail chain will launch in the space Petco vacated in April after operating since 2008 between Bealls and Bed Bath & Beyond. The more than 15,000-square-foot music store will be larger than the Fort Myers store operated by the California-based chain, which has nearly 300 locations nationwide.  

Guitar Center showrooms are equipped with the latest products for musicians in stores that also offer musical instrument repairs, rentals, and lessons. Its showroom has guitars, amplifiers, percussion instruments and keyboards as well as lighting, recording, live sound, and disc jockey equipment.  

Lucky’s vacancy 

Q: Any word on what will become of the never-opened Lucky’s Market at Gateway Shoppes at 41 and Wiggins Pass Road? — John Jaffee, Naples  

A: Answering the question that many people have been asking for a couple of years: A tenant still has not been signed to replace Lucky’s Market for that large end unit near the Wiggins Pass Road entrance into Gateway Shoppes.  

Attempting to fill the space a bankrupt Lucky’s Market vacated in early 2020 just before the grocery store was set to open, Benderson Development is working with a couple of potential tenants for that large endcap, Brett Burgher said. “Still have some work to do before that is finalized, though,” Burgher said.  

The addition of that 30,016-square-foot retail space and the adjacent 7,119-square-foot unit were part of the first phase of an expansion plan a few years ago on the southwest corner of Gateway Shoppes. 

More Gateway Shoppes 

Q: I see they are clearing the lot next to Panera Bread at Old 41 and U.S. 41. Do you know if Starbucks is still in the plans for that location? — Barbara Schell Tomasi, Naples  

A: The second phase of Gateway Shoppes’ expansion recently began construction on the vacant lot fronting U.S. 41 between Panera Bread and Fifth Third Bank. When completed, the new freestanding 8,115-square-foot multi-unit building will have a drive-thru on its northern end.   

Initially, that drive-thru unit was proposed for a Starbucks coffee shop intended to replace the longtime location the chain closed five years ago a short distance away at the Shoppes at Audubon in North Naples. Now, Kelly’s Roast Beef plans a 3,500-square-foot drive-thru restaurant in that future Gateway Shoppes outparcel, Burgher said.  

Kelly’s, known in the Boston area for its roast beef sandwiches and lobster rolls, is targeting to open that North Naples location around the end of 2023, according to Jeff Doward, the regional director of RAVentures, a hospitality group franchising the brand. It’s one of three fast-casual restaurants that Kelly’s plans in the Naples area as part of up to 20 locations coming to Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s also targeted to open a drive-thru franchise in March at Founders Square along Immokalee Road just east of Collier Boulevard as well as one on Tamiami Trail East in East Naples. Near the end of 2023, RAVentures is planning Kelly’s franchises near Topgolf in Fort Myers and at Babcock Ranch, Doward said. Unless Hurricane Ian delayed plans, the first Kelly’s outside of the Boston area is targeted to open Nov. 1 in the former space of Sweet Tomatoes at The Mall at University Town Center, another Benderson property in Sarasota County.  

Bridging the gap  

Q: Whatever happened to the construction of the bridge over the canal on 16th Street like the one on 8th Street? — Gary Sefcik, Golden Gate Estates  

A: The bridge traversing the Cypress Canal to connect both sections of 16th Street Northeast in Golden Gate Estates is still planned to be built by Collier County, but it will be about three years before you’ll be able to cross it.   

The timing of the bridge’s completion is planned to coincide with the completion of the Vanderbilt Beach Road extension, which broke ground last month and is expected to be finished in fall 2025. The first phase of the seven-mile extension will end at 16th Street Northeast.  

At the southern edge of Randall Boulevard, 16th Street lines up with the entrance into Valencia Golf & Country Club, a gated community north of Randall. Eventually, the road will stretch from there to Golden Gate Boulevard and even farther south. But, for now, it’s two dead-end roads of more than two miles each with the same name because it’s bisected by a canal. The red diamond-shaped signs at the end of the road on either side of the canal will eventually be replaced by a bridge for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  

“The project limits are from Golden Gate Boulevard to Randall Boulevard. The project will include a new two-lane bridge over the Golden Gate Main Canal, a new sidewalk on the west side of the roadway, improved drainage throughout the project area, shoulder widening and roadway resurfacing,” according to information from county staff recently relayed by community liaison Connie Deane.  

The design phase of the project started in July and is expected to be completed around December 2023. Construction is anticipated to start in fall 2024 with completion about a year later, Deane said.  

Readers recently noticed that white flags have been placed along 16th Street. Transportation Engineering Division staff for the county have advised that the geotechnical consultant most likely placed the white flags at locations they will be completing boreholes for asphalt cores or soil borings. “Typically, they mark their locations (in white) and call in the utility companies to mark their locations to see if there are any conflicts,” Deane said.  

White flags universally signify proposed construction or excavation, according to the American Public Works Association. Other construction flag colors commonly seen along roadways marking underground utilities include red (electrical conduits), yellow (gas lines), orange (communication lines), blue (water pipes), green (sewer pipes) and violet (reclaimed water pipes). 

Span plan  

While infrastructure work may seem arbitrary at times, Collier County has a plan. In the case of the 16th Street bridge, it’s in the “East of 951 Horizon Study for Bridges” that the county completed in August 2008. This study was conducted to evaluate opportunities to construct bridge connections in the Golden Gate Estates roadway network, which has more than 300 dead-end streets. The goal was to identify potential transportation benefits to improving connectivity, hurricane and wildfire evacuation routes and access to schools, libraries and parks, while reducing response times for first responders and trip length for personal travel. Because of limited funding, a dozen future bridges were ranked based on criteria related to emergency response, service efficiency and mobility.  

It would be another decade, though, before a funding mechanism was put into place to bankroll these bridges. In 2018, Collier voters approved a one-cent infrastructure surtax that included funding specifically earmarked to construct a series of bridges in the Estates within the next five years. In 2019, the county completed construction of the bridge on Eighth Street Northeast with funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. That same year, the county programmed construction of the 16th Street bridge in its “5-Year Work Program” with funds from the infrastructure surtax. The Eighth Street bridge will serve as a prototype for this bridge and future bridges.   

In May 2021, Collier commissioners approved the programming of five bridge crossings in the Estates for the design phase of construction. Bridges greenlighted for the design phase are crossings on 10th Avenue Southeast (between Desoto and Everglades boulevards), 13th Street Northwest (north of Golden Gate Boulevard), 47 Avenue Northeast (between Immokalee Road and Everglades Boulevard), 62nd Avenue Northeast (between Everglades Boulevard and 40th Street Northeast) and Wilson Boulevard South (south of 33rd Avenue Northeast).  

Another five proposed bridge locations in the Estates will be reconsidered and reevaluated in the future. Those include canal crossings at 23rd Street Southwest (south of Golden Gate Boulevard), 18th Avenue Northeast (between Wilson Avenue and Eighth Street Northeast), 18th Avenue Northeast (between Eighth Street Northeast and 16th Street Northeast), 16th Street Southeast (south of Golden Gate Boulevard) and Wilson Boulevard (south of Golden Gate Boulevard).  

“Tim Aten Knows,” a column answering local questions from readers, is published every Friday at Follow Tim Aten on social media: @TimAtenKnows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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