Planning board approves rezoning for Naples Square community

NAPLES SQUARE

The development

Naples Square is a 300-unit residential community planned for about 10.8 acres of the former Grand Central Station Property at the intersection of U.S. 41 East and Goodlette-Frank Road. The units are spread among four, identical quadrants with their own parking areas and second-floor decks with pools and seating areas. Third Avenue South runs through the property and would be open to public traffic.

The developers plan to return to the city’s advisory boards for approval of a future commercial component to the property, which would abut Goodlette-Frank Road.

The approval

On Wednesday, the project received unanimous rezoning approval from the city’s Planning Advisory Board.

The board voted on three separate items which essentially replaced a 2005 planned development approving Renaissance Village. That development would have provided for 300 residential units and some commercial components.

The votes also approved a site plan for the residential component. A site plan for the commercial component will have to come back before the board at a later date, City Attorney Robert Pritt said.

The project received preliminary design approval from the Design Review Board last month. To receive final approval from the Design Review Board, developers must address connectivity of the sidewalks through the development, and ways to differentiate the four quadrants through color schemes, building materials or different landmarks.

The developers agreed to communicate with artist Paul Arsenault who leads a group of concern citizens in the city who want to turn the entire property into a park. The two parties met this month to discuss plans for the site.

Notable

Neville Williams, a member of the group that’s been pushing for a public park, spoke during the meeting and asked the board for a compromise. He wants to see 75 percent of the remaining 10 acres on the site set aside for a central park. The other 25 percent can be used for the commercial components already planned.

The board did not comment on Williams’ suggestion other than to ask whether the recently approved Gordon River park would satisfy the group’s desire for a public park. Williams said it did not.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with that,” he said. “We spoke in favor and applaud city for doing it.”

Terese DeLuca, a Bayfront resident and real estate agent in Naples also spoke during the meeting, though not in favor of a park. She said Naples is a park on its own and that adding another greenspace to the Grand Central Station property would not connect the city in the way park advocates say it would.

“We have gaping holes,” she said. “We are disjointed downtown and if this project, which is very nice, can be put together, we’ll have a beautifully managed city from the beach to the river.”

What’s next

Site plans must receive final approval from the Design Review Board before appearances at the Planning Advisory Board and City Council. A first reading and a second reading will be held as public hearings before City Council next month.

The first is planned for Oct. 16.

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