Collier planning head says growth and development are busiest he’s ever seen

Outdoor bar at Mystique Pelican Bay. Photo: mystiquepelicanbay.com

Outdoor bar at Mystique Pelican Bay. Photo: mystiquepelicanbay.com

Collier County has a lot on its plate this year for growth and development, according to Collier County Planning Commission Chairman Mark Strain.

Strain delivered a data-packed presentation at a Wake Up Naples breakfast Wednesday with updates on hot topics including new development and roads.

“We’ve got so much growth going on in Collier County right now,” said Strain, the county’s hearing examiner. ““We have been busier (than) I’ve seen than all the years I’ve been here.

“Ironically I thought Hurricane Irma would have slowed things down. So we are doing surprisingly well in spite of the hurricane.”

Collier is geographically the largest county in Florida and has a permanent population of 365,000, with many thousands more during season, according to a census report. The county’s population is expected to reach more than 482,000 by 2040.

Strain emphasized that Collier will see a lot of density and urbanization but that it will never be like Miami, considering 77 percent of the 1.5 million acres in Collier are permanent preservation land and will not be developed.
The four multimillion-dollar residential tower projects Strain discussed at last year’s meeting have down-sized to three, he said, with the Ritz-Carlton deciding not to proceed with building another tower.

Updates on multimillion-dollar residential towers:

  • Mystique, an 81-unit high rise in Pelican Bay, is under construction and will have a sister building.
  • Last year developers of One Naples had a vision to build a mixed-use project that would include an 18-story luxury tower with 300 residences. However, their website says they are redefining the One Naples project to address the feedback received from the community.
  • Kalea Bay, approved in 2000 for a five-building project with 590 units, now has one tower built, and the second is in the sales stage. They also have plans for a golf course across the street.
  • As for affordable housing, Strain said Ave Maria and Orangetree are helping to fill that niche, but he noted that the more affordable housing is built to the east, the worse Collier’s roads and traffic will be.
  • “It’s kind of a dynamic we haven’t addressed yet,” he said.
  • Stores like the new Publix at Neighborhood Shoppes at Orangetree have helped ease that traffic, Strain said.
  • “What happens is when you put commercial out where the rooftops are, those people don’t drive all the way to urban area and crowd up the roads,” he said.
  • In an effort to reduce the ongoing traffic issues, Strain said the county is working on building overpasses and flyovers.
  • “I don’t like the roads, either,” he said. “It’s something we will work our way through, and we have plans to really resolve them, but all that takes is money and time.”
  • Overpasses are planned at Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41 East and at Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard, and a flyover at Davis Boulevard and Collier Boulevard.
  • Job growth will come from businesses like Seed to Table, a 60,000-square-foot grocery store being finished where Albertsons use to be on the northeast corner of Livingston and Immokalee roads in North Naples.
  • Strain said the developer and owner of Oakes Farms, Alfie Oakes, has been traveling the country visiting other grocery stores to find out what will attract people and will be unique to Collier.
  • Seed to Table is expected to employ 400 people. Strain said it is projected to open at the end of 2018.
  • Strain also touched base on what he finds to be a funny trend — storage facilities.
  • There are 58 storage facilities in Collier, and 10 more have been approved.
  • “I think it’s a conspiracy theory,” he said. “It’s a sign of the times that maybe we spend too much money on things that we store.”
  • Strain also touched on the proposed Sports Park at Interstate 75 and Collier Boulevard, plans for more WaWa gas stations, more Arthrex projects and other plans for new development and redevelopment.

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