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Commercial Real Estate
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 11, 2020 9 months ago

Green shoots on former Naples nursey site

Founders Square, a mixed-use project in Collier County, will bring a collection of restaurants, residences, office space and self-storage units to 55 acres.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

One of Collier County’s largest land owners and developers has teamed up with a retail developer to build a project with a mix of four distinct uses on 55 acres in Naples.

Barron Collier Cos. and Metro Commercial’s Founders Square project will consist of 400 apartments, a 35,000-square-foot medical office building, a 40,000-square-foot building that will house 10 separate restaurants and a self-storage facility.

The project, at the high-growth intersection of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard, is expected to be completed in the latter half of 2021.

Construction began in January, the same month that a Barron Collier-led partnership acquired the property from Tree Plateau Co. Inc. for $20.2 million, according to Collier County and state records.

“We believe it’s a tremendous property and we’ve come up with what we believe will be a cohesive mix that will work well together for the site and the community,” says Eric Mallory, a Metro Commercial executive vice president, who is working on Founders Square.

The project’s anchor will be The Pointe, a horseshoe-shaped building containing as many as 10 nationally known and local restaurants with a focus on outdoor dining. Unlike the popular food hall concept that’s attracted attention in Tampa and elsewhere, The Pointe’s eateries will each be stand-alone restaurants, albeit physically connected in the same building.

“It’s what people are wanting today,” Mallory says. “There’s a dearth of restaurants in that area, and we intend to bring in the best-in-class operators to fill up the building.

“We’re definitely in a time where the restaurant industry is changing, and undergoing some turmoil, but it’s not going away,” Mallory adds. “And this project is a recognition that this submarket is underserved. It’s a formula we believe will work over the long term.”

Metro Commercial, which previously developed the Price Street Plaza in Naples, and Barron Collier have had their eyes on the former Pelican Nursery property for some time.

In 2016, the duo put the property under contract to develop a shopping center anchored by a grocery store and a home improvement operator, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. A year later, however, the plans for the 300,000-square-foot retail hub and adjacent 112 apartments fizzled because of macro-economic changes.

“By late 2017, with all the difficulties that bricks-and-mortar retail was experiencing, we realized that trying that concept might be a tough go,” Mallory says. “So we pivoted to mixed use, and the market led us to the plans we have formulated today.”

In all, Metro Commercial has developed or leased more than 430 retail properties in the Mid-Atlantic and Florida containing roughly 32 million square feet, according to its website.

At Founders Square, Metro Commercial has tapped Davis Development to construct the planned three- and four-story apartments and a separate company, Davis Group, to build the self-storage component.

Blake Gable, Barron Collier’s CEO, says the area where Founders Square is being developed is expanding rapidly.

“That intersection (of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard) has experienced tremendous growth in recent years,” Gable says. “We had great success with an apartment community across the street, so we think we understand which direction the growth is headed. And there’s a lot of excitement about that part of the county.

“With Metro, they’re friends and business associates both,” Gable adds. “Working with them allows us to do the things we do well and them the things they do well, so it’s a good fit.”

Barron Collier’s retail portfolio includes the Granada Shoppes in Naples, Bay Landing in Bonita Springs, Creekside Corners in North Naples and Goodlette Corners, also in Naples.

The company’s office holdings include the eight-building Newgate Center, in Naples and the offices of law firm Quarles & Brady and the Premier Executive Center, in North Naples, according to its website.

Barron Collier Commercial, an affiliate, also oversees leasing and management of the Ave Maria Town Center, Creekside Medical Center, the Mercato office and retail complex and the Magnolia Square office and retail center, all in Collier County.

Mallory contends the Founders Square plans also represent a good fit for the area.

“The height and the scale of the project will fit in with its surroundings, and we’re very concerned with making it work from an aesthetic point of view,” he says. “It would have been a mistake to make it more dense.”

“We hope that one of the things people notice about this project is its cohesiveness and the architectural elements that it will have,” Mallory says. “We’re not just putting together lots; all the individual pieces will fit together. We think this is going to be a place where people want to spend time.”




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