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KEEPING UP WITH GROWTH: Naples Design District to see revamp with pedestrian safety proposal

KEEPING UP WITH GROWTH: Naples Design District to see revamp with pedestrian safety proposal
Posted at 10:13 PM, Apr 30, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — If you spend a lot of time in Collier County, you may have noticed it's getting more and more crowded. Naples Community Correspondent Bella Line spoke with some of the City of Naples leaders and many say they are feeling the effects of the growth out east, in the downtown area.

The City held a public meeting Tuesday to hear from business owners and residents in the design district about a solution to the rapid growth.

The Design District stretches from 5th Avenue South to 7th Avenue North, and east of US 41 to Goodlette Frank Road.

The square has continued to fill with shops, boutiques, food, and residents since its official opening in 2018.

"When I bought at Naples Square, I told my wife that downtown is going to come to us, and sure enough, that's what's happening,” said Peter Ward, who lives in the Design District. "The number of restaurants that have opened up just last year is amazing around us and the proliferation of pedestrians has just blossomed.”

With that blossoming comes the need for safer and more efficient foot traffic.

"This area, it needs to be redeveloped,” said Teresa Heitmann, the City of Naples mayor. "It needs to be a little bit vibrant, you know, it's time. We've slowly worked on this area, but not really giving it the attention it needs."

The goal is to widen sidewalks and add bike lanes to 1st Avenue South, 10th Street, and 12th Street.

Daniel Flynn, project manager, told Fox 4 it is an overall upgrade to the infrastructure of the area.

“We're looking at the facilities how they are today, and looking at different ways to maybe pull by civilians bicyclists off the road onto a shared use path, or give them a dedicated facility away from motorists,” said Flynn. "Then also providing that pedestrian connectivity along 10th Street on both sides of the road. We're doing this while also maintaining that Naples brand as far as the landscaping improvements.”

For many living near the project, they say they are excited about the pedestrian-friendly idea.

“We ride our bikes down the street just about every morning and to see that there are options for a shared walk and bikeway, and right now there's some raised brick and then there's a little sidewalk and a little pavement and then there's a pothole and this would just bring it all together,” said Patty Campbell, who lives in the Design District.

The Naples Complete Streets Project is still in the design phase but they are expecting to begin construction in spring of 2025.