NAPLES, Fla. — Naples leaders recently unveiled their plan to revitalize an area of the city they hope becomes its newest hot spot.
At a public meeting at Fleischmann Park, the city released its master plan for an area called the Design District. Leaders hope the area near downtown will be a new destination with a unique vibe that sets it apart.
“There are a lot of mom and pop shops here locally, some really cool boutiques — a lot of business that are centered toward the creative,” Amy Jensen said.
Jensen is the gallery manager for Method and Concept, one of many art galleries and design centers that give the area near downtown Naples its name. She said that creative feel is what gives the Design District its name.
“We wanted to beautify the area and bring something that was significantly different, something that wasn’t seen and won’t be anywhere else but the Design District,” Jensen said.
Beautification is the goal of the city’s new Master Plan for the Design District, which runs from U.S. 41 on the west to Goodlette-Frank Road on the east, then from Seventh Avenue North to Fifth Avenue South.
The plan calls for improving walkways in the area, as well as providing more public spaces.
The emphasis is on developing the original buildings while bringing in more shops and restaurants.
“We do have older buildings. we haven’t developed too much,” said Elizabeth Kurtz, president of the Design District’s civic association. “There’s just more of an artistic cultural feel here and we want to continue that growth.”
Kurtz works in The Collective, a new hub for design-related businesses that have relocated to the area.
The development of the area was done using public input from meetings back in November, as well as a survey of city residents.
“The city council and CRA are committed to public engagement in the City of Naples,” said Anita Jenkins of the Community Redevelopment Agency.
And Jenkins hopes that helped create a space that is unique to Southwest Florida.
“It is the hope that we will create a third node and destination for the city along with Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South,” she said.
After public input is received tonight on the Design District, the master plan will be presented to an advisory board in two weeks. If everything is approved, the plan could become final in June.