After demolition of the ever-popular Café Luna, Naples real estate developer Phil McCabe is proceeding with construction of an underground parking garage for his upcoming Fifth Avenue South condominium building after a judge ruled in his favor in a lawsuit filed against the project.
The order earlier this month from Collier County Circuit Judge Hugh Hayes ended a nearly year-long legal battle against McCabe’s plans for a three-story commercial project with upper-floor condos and 43 underground parking spaces.
Those plans are moving forward, as crews have dug a hole for the garage roughly 12 feet deep that covers McCabe’s half-acre lot at 465 Fifth Ave. S. A website for the Residences at 5th and 5th project is taking reservations for the 11 condos on the second and third floors and promoting the project’s on-site parking.
An economic analyst told a city redevelopment panel last month that preliminary prices for the units range from $2.2 million to $3.3 million.
Construction crews can be seen from Fifth Avenue working in a 12-foot pit that covers Naples real-estate developer's half-acre lot at the 465 5th Ave. S. (Photo: Joseph Cranney)
The construction work can be seen from Fifth Avenue South, where the sidewalk on the north end of the avenue is closed along McCabe’s property.
McCabe declined to discuss the project, pending the outcome of another lawsuit in Collier County. The lawsuit, in which McCabe is not a defendant, was filed by downtown property owner Joan Fiore, who seeks an injunction against Fifth Avenue condo projects that she argues are based on an unlawful change to the city's building restrictions.
“I have been advised to not comment in any way on my project, or any project I might be planning,” McCabe said. “If litigation were to end I would have no problem discussing my projects and vision.”
But when contacted with concerns from a Naples resident that construction was causing street damage around the property, McCabe said the project is “going very well.”
Crews are working to remove water and soil from the large pit and will pour the concrete slab on Jan. 9, McCabe said.
City Manager Bill Moss said the streets and building departments are monitoring the project. The city doesn’t have an updated construction schedule, Moss said.
The City Council voted 5-2 in favor of the project in November 2015, for the first time approving plans for underground parking on Fifth Avenue South.
There was a concern when construction began in May that the project, which was originally scheduled for completion at the end of 2017, would be delayed. McCabe said he wouldn’t begin construction on the garage until a judge ruled in the lawsuit filed against the garage last December by Fiore and another downtown property owner, Bob Martin.
Fiore and Martin claimed that the parking garage under the three-story building constituted a fourth floor, violating a provision of the city charter that limits buildings to three floors.
Hayes ruled against that lawsuit in October and denied a motion for a re-hearing on Dec. 6.
In another pending lawsuit filed by Fiore in March, she argues for a temporary injunction against any residential projects on Fifth Avenue. City approvals of such projects, she argues, are invalid because the city didn’t properly alert the public before the council voted to change its building density limits to allow more condos in buildings on Fifth.
That lawsuit earlier this month caused a pair of Fifth Avenue real-estate developers to pull their plans for a redevelopment across the street from McCabe’s project. Angele and Hadley Warwick’s proposal for 505 Fifth Ave. S. is tentatively rescheduled for council consideration in June.
Moss, the city manager, said McCabe’s project wouldn’t be suspended by the city before a judge rules in the pending Fiore lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the website for McCabe’s Residences at 5th and 5th is promoting the two-and-three bedroom condo units ranging from 2,200 square feet to 3,300 square feet, with parking on site.
“Parking for the development is accommodated in a private, underground parking garage which is accessed from the rear alley,” the website states. “The residential elevators give residents and guests direct access to the flats above.”