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Q: I see they tore down Bear’s Den day care on the North Collier Hospital property. Are they rebuilding or building something new? — Megan Steed, Naples

A: Bear’s Den Childcare Center was razed this summer to make way for a proposed freestanding hospital expansion on the NCH North Naples campus along the north side of Immokalee Road between Health Park and Medical boulevards.

NCH is partnering with New York-based Hospital for Special Surgery, known as HSS, to build a three-story, 80,000-square-foot hospital. HSS at NCH will be a 15-bed acute-care addition on the hospital campus at 11190 Health Park Blvd.

HSS, which has other Florida locations for its specialized orthopedic care in West Palm Beach and Wellington, focuses on treating musculoskeletal health conditions, including joint replacement, spinal care, sports medicine and rheumatology. Founded in 1863, HSS is the oldest orthopedic hospital in the United States and performs more hip surgeries and knee replacements than any other hospital in the nation, the company reports.

NCH notified parents this spring that Bear’s Den, 1665 Medical Blvd., was going to permanently close in early June after operating for 20 years. NCH jointly plans a new child-care center with Arthrex, but it is not expected for about two years. The building’s demolition occurred ahead of the Collier County Planning Commission’s unanimous approval Sept. 22 for its redevelopment.

The planning board approved the North Naples Medical Park planned unit development amendment to allow for the Hospital for Special Surgery, an increase in the maximum gross floor area from 150,000 square feet to 205,000 square feet, as well as to amend right-of-way and setback stipulations.

The recent proposal updates the North Naples Medical Park PUD ordinance that was approved in August 1995. Platting of the subdivision was completed in 1996 with 10 developable lots and an internal road named Medical Boulevard. Permitted and conditional uses include various medical service uses, which have been developed on the majority of the lots, county records show.

This new request allows for redevelopment of the medical park’s lots 6 and 7, which included Bear’s Den and its parking lot. The parcels front Immokalee Road between The Birthplace—and an adjacent parking garage—and the NCH Imaging Center. Immediately west of this PUD is the NCH North Naples Hospital and NCH North Collier Campus, which is zoned as Collier Health Center PUD.

“The great benefit to this is that it’s all part of the singular campus. There’s a parking garage and surface parking and pedestrian access throughout the project from the proposed Hospital for Special Surgery to the balance of the campus, which is great because there’s transit that’s available and employment opportunities,” said Bob Mulhere, senior vice president of Hole Montes, who represented NCH in presenting the petition to the Planning Commission.

After reviewing the proposed amendment, county planning staff found the petition consistent with the Future Land Use Element of the county’s growth management plan. The new HSS at NCH will be fully integrated with the existing NCH North Collier Campus.

To serve the new hospital, NCH also requested a site development plan amendment to build an addition onto its on-site central energy plant, as well as modifications to the adjacent helipad for medical helicopters on the North Naples campus, records show.

Next, the redevelopment issue will be decided by the county board of commissioners at its Nov. 14 meeting.

By the way, NCH formerly was an acronym for Naples Community Hospital, which was founded in downtown Naples in 1956. In recent years, the local hospital system’s name was NCH Healthcare System. After a rebranding campaign announced this month, NCH has dropped “Healthcare System” and is simply NCH, which now is short for Naples Comprehensive Health. Expect to see a new logo and rebranding rolled out during the next year.

“NCH has experienced a tremendous amount of growth and change, and the new brand is a great way to reflect that,” said Dr. Paul Jones, past president of medical staff, in a Sept. 7 news release. “This rebrand brings excitement for the future and has been physician-inspired. NCH continues to partner with physicians from all specialties for the benefit of our community.”

Q: I love your info, articles and updates. I have lived in Collier County for almost 30 years, so I’ve seen many places come and go. But I have a question and I tried to Google this and put together the pieces but can’t be certain. A friend and I have differing memories!

Can you tell me if the original Sam Snead’s that was across from Tiburón was always in the strip mall on the corner by Publix in Naples Walk or did it open in what is now Off the Hook and later move to the strip mall side? Or what was Off the Hook originally, and in between? Thanks for your help with this memory clarification. — Kathy Kamin, Naples

A: It’s impossible that Sam Snead’s Tavern could have been in today’s space of Off the Hook Comedy Club when the golf-themed tavern opened in December 1999 because that part of the Naples Walk retail center wasn’t built yet on the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach roads. That freestanding easternmost strip bookended by Off the Hook and North Naples Veterinary Hospital wasn’t built until 2006.

Naples Walk retail center was built in three phases. The largest section, anchored by Publix, was built in 1999. Sam Snead’s Tavern opened that year on the eastern end of that first phase.

Immediately to the east of Sam Snead’s, the second phase was built in 2000. Il Primo Pizza & Wings still operates there two decades later. The two-story third phase, now anchored by Off the Hook, was built in 2006 perpendicular to the first two phases on the eastern end of the center.

The locally licensed location for Sam Snead’s Tavern relocated to Lely Resort in March 2012. Its longtime location in Naples Walk then was briefly home to the Naples Tap Room & Grille, followed by Capers Kitchen & Bar and then Cafe Luna. After serving as a restaurant and bar for nearly 20 years, the 4,530-square foot unit now is Island Doctors, medical offices affiliated with Humana.

The large, recently renovated space that has hosted the successful Off the Hook and Row Seafood for about 10 years previously was a series of restaurants and bars: Bond Restaurant/Lounge, Latitude, Cafe Italia Ristorante and Paul Sturkey’s Encore.

The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at tim.aten@naplespress.com.

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