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Can new homes on an old golf course bring the middle class back to Naples?

Collier County leaders and a non-profit think it's possible and broke ground on the project Monday.
Through years of delays, the Golden Gate Golf Course workforce housing moves forward
Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 18:35:40-05

NAPLES, Fla. — Distant memories of old greens and fairways gave way to piles of dirt Monday, as crews broke ground on the old Golden Gate golf course, to build some of you some much needed housing.

"I will tell you this is the first but it will not be the last," said District 3 Commissioner Burt Saunders.

In a partnership with the non-profit, Rural Neighborhoods, Collier county leaders are calling the 25-acre site the largest workforce housing development in its history. The development is specifically designed for frontline workers providing critical services funded by your tax dollars, such as emergency first-responders, nurses, and teachers.

"A lot of those folks serve in this community and this will give a place to live right where they work," said Commissioner Saunders.

The county partnered with the non-profit, Rural Neighborhoods, on the project. The group’s leader believes this is one way to bring the middle class back to the Naples area.

"Large-style family apartments, ones, twos, and three bedrooms are there's a mix for people at the different stages of their professional career," said Steven Kirk, Rural Neighborhoods president. "We hope we're a place that new teachers and new members of our community can find a place to become familiar with the Collier community as they begin to then transition into their own homes."

RELATED: GOLDEN GATE | Nonprofit developer brings workforce housing to Golden Gate (

The project began almost five years ago but ran into repeated delays due to funding, construction costs, COVID-19, Hurricane Ian, and water management issues.

"We're at the point where there's really only one hurdle to overcome right now and that is to secure all of the financing for the project," said Saunders.

Money from a $20 million sales tax fund will build more than 250 units, and essential workers will get the first priority.

Saunders says after that, a 120 unit senior living facility will be built, along with a rehab clinic specifically for veterans.

"You're not gonna make everybody happy, but I think for the most part, this community is very delighted with the fact that there's going to be Veterans nursing home, there's going to be workforce housing, and most importantly for this community, there's going to be a golf course here," said Saunders.

Yes, some of that old golf course will still remain, albeit a few holes shorter.

And we will have to wait a little longer to finally move in. Kirk said the new homes should be ready for frontline workers by the fall of 2025.