Q: What’s happening at the northeast corner of Tamiami Trail and Golden Gate Parkway? Looks like a building has been knocked down and there’s a fence around the area.
— Arnold Saslavsky, Naples
A: A former Frantz EyeCare office recently was demolished to make way for a new Fifth Third Bank branch in the Gateway of Naples retail center across from Coastland Center mall. The freestanding 5,000-square-foot bank office with drive-thru lanes is targeted to open in late July 2023 in the retail center anchored by the original Food & Thought, said Jennifer Auray, vice president of regional marketing and communications for Fifth Third Bank in Florida.
In 2020, Frantz EyeCare moved a short distance to a new, much larger two-story medical office built by Stevens Construction at 2500 Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples. The Fifth Third banking center under construction on that outparcel lot in front of Dorona restaurant will feature the bank’s next-generation design concept, which fosters a consultative atmosphere as opposed to more historical, transactional banking, said John R. Slavik, senior vice president and retail executive for Fifth Third’s Southern market.
“We’re excited for the continued opportunities to bring the Fifth Third next-gen experience to more of our Naples-area customers,” Slavik said. “The new, innovative design was created with a focus on our customers’ need and preferences, fostering a welcoming environment where our bankers are focused on providing a best-in-class experience for our community, as well as allowing customers to meet with our bankers in a space they find most comfortable. Fifth Third is focused on building relationships and partnering with our customers to achieve their goals.”
Fifth Third plans to open three other next-gen bank offices in the region before the end of this year. The new offices will be in Naples, North Naples, and Estero.
Fifth Third is targeted to open Oct. 13 in a second-generation space that formerly was an IberiaBank office on the corner of U.S. 41 and Fourth Avenue South in Naples. The bank will have the ground floor of a two-story building owned by the Hoffmann Family of Companies, which offers leasable professional office space on the second floor as part of Hoffmann Executive Suites.
Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate acquired the building at 428 Ninth St. S. in February. Following a merger with First Horizon Bank, IberiaBank was rebranded First Horizon in early 2022 and closed that location. Orion Bank bought that .29-acre property in 2002 for $1.1 million before it became IberiaBank in 2010.
That Naples address was well known as a drive-thru liquor store decades ago and it was the former home of the Swamp Buggy Lounge, a popular local hangout. The Swamp Buggy closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2004.
Fifth Third is moving into this existing bank building instead of razing an old retail strip at Ninth Street and Third Avenue South and building a new office, as originally planned. The bank abandoned its original plans after encountering difficulty getting a drive-thru approved by the city.
Two other Fifth Third offices are preparing to open this December. Construction started this spring on a new North Naples branch at Collier Health Park on the northwest corner of Immokalee Road and Health Park Boulevard. The 2,800-square-foot full-service banking center is targeted to open Dec. 16 on an out lot that formerly was used for parking at the adjacent retail strip near NCH Healthcare System’s North Naples campus.
Fifth Third also has its Corkscrew financial center scheduled to open Dec. 20 off Miromar Outlet Drive and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway in Estero. The new bank was built on a vacant parcel that formerly was parking spaces just inside that eastern entrance of Miromar Outlets.
Q: Will there be a traffic light added to the Valencia Trails and Twin Eagles entrances to ease up the traffic issues? — Darlene Roddy, Naples
A: It’s just a matter of time before a traffic signal is installed at Immokalee Road’s intersection with Twin Eagles Boulevard and Majestic Trails Boulevard, the new road into GL Homes’ Valencia Trails 55-plus residential community under construction more than 3 miles east of Collier Boulevard.
“Our Traffic Operations chief engineer has advised that the Valencia Trails developer did a signal warrant study with future numbers which demonstrated that the intersection will meet warrants in the future after the development’s completion,” said Connie Deane, community liaison for Collier County government. “Its approval was conditioned on a new study to be done by the developer when the actual traffic volumes at the intersection satisfy the traffic signal warrants. The construction of this new traffic signal can take as much as one year due to material supply issues that the industry is experiencing these days.”
Valencia Trails and TwinEagles are two of the largest gated residential communities in Collier County. The 563-acre Valencia Trails eventually will have more than 850 single-family homes extending south from Immokalee Road to the Vanderbilt Beach Road extension, a seven-mile county project that broke ground this week. GL Homes, the developer of Valencia Trails, believes a traffic light at the subdivision’s Immokalee Road entrance will be warranted before less than half of the homes are sold there.
“We think we would meet warrants somewhere between 300 and 350 closed homes. It will hopefully be sometime early to mid-next year,” said John Asher, land development director for GL Homes. “We’re hoping that once we meet it that [the traffic signal] can be installed pretty quickly. We’ve already ordered most of the materials.”
Asher estimates that GL Homes already has closed on about 200 homes in Valenica Trails. “With the number of closings every month, it won’t be another six months until we get there,” he said.
The intersection is about two miles east of the traffic light installed last year at the Immokalee Road intersection at Quarry and Woodcrest drives. Other traffic signals are operated during limited day parts in less than 1.5 miles in either direction on Immokalee Road at the entrance into two local charter schools, Naples Classical Academy and Collier Charter Academy.
A traffic control signal should not be greenlighted unless an engineering study indicates that installing a traffic control signal will improve the overall safety and/or operation of the intersection, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vehicular volumes and peak hour traffic are among the factors analyzed to determine the need for a traffic signal.
Valencia Trails eventually will have a second entrance on Vanderbilt Beach Road’s future extension. From an infrastructure standpoint, roads and utilities are already being built in the fourth and final phase of Valencia Trails plans to reach the road extension site before the county project does,” Asher said. “We should be there ahead of them,” he said. “It will provide relief for Immokalee Road.”
“Tim Aten Knows,” a column answering local questions from readers, is published every Friday at GulfshoreBusiness.com. Follow Tim Aten on social media: @TimAtenKnows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.