Joseph Cranney, firstname.lastname@example.org; 239-213-60358:27 p.m. EDT September 20, 2016
The Naples City Council will vote Wednesday on the latest commercial redevelopment in downtown Naples for a three-story condo project with shops on the ground floor.
The plan offered by Angele and Hadley Warwick at the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and Fifth Street would tear down a one-story retail building and replace it with about 7,100 square feet of retail and eight condos on the upper floors.
The city’s planning and design boards have granted preliminary approval for the project, but council members are split on whether they should grant another redevelopment on Fifth Avenue after a recent flux of controversial projects.
“We’ve reached the intensity that we can possibly handle,” Vice Mayor Linda Penniman said. “We are now, in my opinion, starting to canyonize the street.”
Mayor Bill Barnett said he supports the project.
“The plans haven’t changed, and I have no issues with it,” he said.
The proposal could get tripped up when the council considers the project’s proposal to satisfy most of its parking requirements by paying credits to the city.
The Warwicks’ lawyer, John Passidomo from the Cheffy Passidomo law firm, said the council will vote on parking at a future meeting if the building design gets approval Wednesday.
To satisfy parking, the project includes 13 spaces of on-site parking, and the Warwicks are offering the city $500,000, or what it would cost for 25 spaces at a city parking garage at $20,000 per space.
Councilman Doug Finlay is hesitant to support the parking proposal. He wants the council to charge more per parking space.
“I feel very strongly that council should not have reduced the parking allocation fee to $20,000 per space,” Finlay said about the council’s action last December on another developer’s parking proposal.
The Warwicks' parking proposal was offered after owners of a downtown Naples property sued local developer Phil McCabe last year when the council approved his plan to include underground parking at his project across the street from the Warwicks’ property.
Bob Martin and Joan Fiore argued in their lawsuit that the level of parking below a three-story building violates a city charter provision that limits all commercial buildings to three floors.
The lawsuit also argued that McCabe’s plan to extend his building 7 feet above the city’s 42-foot commercial height limit was another violation of the charter.
McCabe demolished his old property at 465 Fifth Ave. S. in May and has said he will delay construction on his 43 spaces of underground parking until Judge James R. Shenko makes a ruling in his pending lawsuit. McCabe has plans for 29 spaces of surface parking as an alternative.
The Warwicks’ proposal, though largely similar to McCabe’s plan, does not extend above the height limit and avoided underground parking.
The Old Naples Association, the downtown homeowners association whose members have spoken against McCabe’s development, met with the builder of the Warwick project in May, and ONA President John Lehmann said he was encouraged by the outreach.
“We’re happy with the progress,” said David Harvey, president of Stone Creek Properties. “Everything has been basically what we expected from the start.”
In a letter to the city, ONA Planning and Development Chairwoman Lori Raleigh said the organization is pleased to see the Warwicks proposal stay within the city’s height limits but that he is concerned about the project’s building density.
The eight residential units on the site’s roughly one-third of an acre would equate to 24 units per acre, Raleigh said, and would “substantially exceed” the density zoning that would have applied before the council adopted a zoning amendment last year.