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After news broke this week that Stock Development rebranded its One Naples project as The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Naples, readers have had some questions about the local development, so today’s column provides additional information.   

To recap, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Naples will have 128 luxury residences on 6 acres at the northeast corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Gulf Shore Drive in North Naples. The redevelopment project is across Gulf Shore Drive from Vanderbilt Beach and across Vanderbilt Beach Road from The Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort. It is being built on the footprint of former condos, real estate offices and businesses that included DaRuMa Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge, Beach Box Cafe and The Beach Store.  

The new condominiums will include a pair of 12-story buildings known as the Tower Residences, which will overlook the Gulf and Vanderbilt Lagoon. The project also will have two mid-rise buildings called the Bay Residences, a fifth mid-rise building called the Park Residences and an adjacent 22-slip marina. The only public component of the private community will be a small deli-cafe on Gulf Shore Drive. 

Ritz rights  

Q: This is bizarre if not affiliated with Ritz-Carlton. Are you saying that Stock will just be paying for the rights to the name? — Susan Owens, Naples  

A: While Stock is licensed to use the Ritz-Carlton’s famous trademark, it is paying an undisclosed fee for more than a name. The brand includes benefits of the first-class hospitality operator.  

Licensed at more than 50 properties throughout the world, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, as with other Residences by Marriott International, include tailored concierge services with legendary standards of excellence.  

“Our dedicated residential team forges relationships with you and your loved ones, getting to know your personal preferences and anticipating your needs. By taking the time to understand who you are and what you like, we can deliver meaningful experiences that exceed all expectations – personalized just for you,” according to information provided by Marriott International. Benefits at Residences include VIP treatment at Marriott properties worldwide, in-residence dining and more.  

“All branded properties, hotels included, there is a fee structure. When you have a Marriott hotel, you’re paying a branded fee to Marriott,” said  Claudine Leger-Wetzel, Stock’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Generally, when a company owns a hotel and chooses to brand it or a company owns a condominium and chooses to brand it, there are fees associated with that but they do provide services and guidance and lots of benefit information. The Ritz brand has very particular ways that you operate.”

Beach access  

Q: Does anyone know what kind of access Naples residents will have to Vanderbilt Beach? Will it be the same? — Crista Richardelli Mango, Naples  

Q: Makes me wonder how much longer Vanderbilt Beach will remain public. — Elaine Raad, Naples  

A: The Ritz-Carlton Residences will not alter public access to Vanderbilt Beach in North Naples. The popular Vanderbilt Beach Park along 5 acres of the Gulf shore and its parking garage on Vanderbilt Beach Road are operated by Collier County Parks & Recreation.   

“We have actually enhanced access because we gave the county $250,000 to put in kiosks in the Vanderbilt Beach parking garage,” said  Stock’s Leger-Wetzel. This addition prevents a line of vehicles entering the garage from stretching out onto the road while beachgoers paid a fee. When the garage was full, the county would shut it down for 30 minutes.  

“We knew that was a big issue for residents that live in the area. In our experience from looking all around the state we see better ways to manage this, so we gave the county $250,000 and we purchased the kiosks for them, and we installed them. So, now, there’s no stopping. You park and then you pay. So that’s going to alleviate that,” Leger-Wetzel said. “Plus, we also are paying for signs east of 41 and west of 41 that will say ‘Parking garage full’ or ‘Parking garage open’ and give you the number of spots (available).”  

Also, in an effort to aid both the vehicle and pedestrian flow near the beach entrance, Stock is paying for a traffic light at the intersection of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Gulf Shore Drive. The signal will replace the all-way stop signs there, she said.  

Since the Collier County commissioners approved Stock Development’s controversial One Naples plans at the end of February, nothing has changed except the project’s name, said Commission Chairman Bill McDaniel.  

“There’s no change from the One Naples project to the Ritz-Carlton Residences. There’s no change in ownership of the beach,” McDaniel said this week. “As far as the beach access and parking garage and traffic signal, all of those things stay the same.”  

Although temporarily out of commission after being damaged by Hurricane Ian, Vanderbilt Beach Road’s western terminus will remain a public beach access in unincorporated Collier County. “That portion will always remain a public beach access,” McDaniel said. “The improvements that Stock Development agreed to do as a portion of the project for the public beach parking and the traffic signal at Vanderbilt and Gulf Shore are still part and parcel to the transaction.”  

The parking garage and traffic signal improvements are much needed for that busy beach area, McDaniel said. “The infrastructure at Gulf Shore and Vanderbilt is deplorable. There was no signalization, no traffic control,” he said. “They had built that parking garage and had a pay-as-you-get-in process and all you need is one yahoo up front hunting quarters and you’ve got five of them stacked out on the street.”  

The public improvements tied to the Stock project will enormously enhance the quality of life for county residents in that area, McDaniel said.  

High-rise prices  

Q: Seriously? Where are they gonna find the 128 millionaires to buy one (of the Ritz-Carlton Residences condos)? Tens of thousands of millionaires already own here, and there aren’t that many more on the planet. — Ryan Ryles, Naples   

A: Stock Development reports that reservations that began earlier this year for units in what then was marketed as One Naples have been adding up, although the company did not disclose specific data.  

“We did well. We’re happy with where we’re at but we haven’t gone to contract yet. We’re still in the pre-sales reservation process,” Leger-Wetzel said.  

That being said, expect asking prices for the residential units at The Ritz-Carlton Residences to be significantly higher than what was reported this week.  

“All we are saying right now is that it’s from $2.5 million. We haven’t released all the final pricing. We’re not doing that until January,” Leger-Wetzel said, noting that the general contractor for the project has been given more time by Stock Residences, the luxury condominium division of Naples-based Stock Development. “We’re not even meeting for another two weeks to get pricing. We can’t price units if we don’t know our costs. So, for now, we’ve just said from 2.5 (million dollars). We haven’t even put the price of the towers out there.”  

The $2.5 million figure may be near the starting price of one of the mid-rise units, but units in the high-rise Tower Residences are expected to start from at least $5.5 million and range to more than $30 million for a grand penthouse with nearly 9,000 square feet, according to advertorial information published in March and April on behalf of Stock. Then, the mid-rise Bay Residences were priced from $3.5 million to more than $6 million, according to the same advertising copy.  

Of course, these costs per unit were published before Hurricane Ian made regional housing and building supplies more difficult to acquire and before One Naples was redubbed The Ritz-Carlton Residences, occurrences that could increase earlier asking prices.

Miami sprawl?  

Q: Sad state of affairs!  Naples + outrageous growth = another MIAMI! — Robbie Lindsay Dunn, Naples  

Q: We are more like Miami every day. Sad. — Arlene Lawson, Naples  

A: While worries about becoming another Miami, Fort Lauderdale or metropolitan area similar to those on the east coast of Florida frequently are heard when major growth and development plans make headlines, coastal Collier County has quite a way to go before that is a reality.  

While Collier County development is a far cry from the proliferation of skyscrapers, convoluted overpasses and white-knuckle traffic in the Miami area and the eastern end of Alligator Alley, Stock Development had vested rights for this North Naples corner in question to build a mini-Mercato-type mixed-use center, which would have been a commercial attraction for much more traffic than the current plan for 128 private residences, County Commissioner McDaniel said.  

“Property rights reign sacred with me,” he said. “The underlying zoning of the piece of property that Stock Development purchased was entitled for four times the intensity of what they’re actually permitted to do now. They reduced their intensity and impact on the community by 75 percent from what their original underlying C-3 and C-4 zoning was.”  

So, while One Naples was granted an increase in residential density, county officials supported doing so to avoid an increase in traffic intensity. Commissioners can’t just claim “Miamification” as a reason to deny a project, McDaniel said. “If there had been a decent rationale to oppose the project, I certainly would have,” he said, noting that Commissioner Penny Taylor was the lone dissenter on this particular project and she lost her primary bid for re-election this year.  

“The other side of that argument and it’s important probably that I say this (to all Collier residents) your property rights as a property owner are important and are sacred to me as well,” McDaniel said. “I can’t take away your property rights in your home any more than I could take away the property rights of a commercial piece of property that wants to develop. I can’t do that. Well, I can, but then I get sued.”   

DaRuMa destiny  

Q: Any word on DaRuMa relocating? — Jamie Stricker, Naples  

A: The Chang family, which launched their first DaRuMa Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar near Vanderbilt Beach in 1989, does not plan to open another restaurant now in the Naples area.   

Their North Naples location permanently closed on Aug. 28 after the Changs sold their 0.78-acre parcel at 241 Center St. to Stock Development for $10 million. The restaurant’s footprint will be a private park, green space and common area in the center of the residential development planned on that corner.  

The timing could not have been better for the Changs because the storm surge from the hurricane made landfall exactly one month after the restaurant closed. The storm pushed water up to the eaves of the restaurant’s familiar blue roof.  

While the original location for DaRuMa will not relocate at this time, additional locations of the local restaurant brand still operate at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers as well as two locations in Sarasota.  

“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.   

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