Through extensive research – including listening-and-learning sessions with the Watkins family, neighbors, and stakeholders in the Naples community – The Athens Group embraced a number of the existing resort’s beloved features as the foundational core of its proposed plan, including:
COMMITMENT TO THE WATKINS LEGACY
Preserving and enhancing beloved elements of the resort
- Maintaining the family’s tradition of hospitality by the inclusion of a 216-room luxury hotel;
- Preserving in perpetuity 104 acres of the property’s 125 acres as recreation and open space, not only for the resort and the community but also as an expansive green space within the City; and
- Maintaining the tradition of the Sunset Beach Bar and HB’s on the Gulf as gathering places for guests of all ages and the community throughout the year.
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING AND SUSTAINABILITY
Embracing the natural attributes of this beachfront setting
The Athens Group has a history of environmentally responsible and sustainable development practices. Bringing their award-winning approach to the Naples Beach Club, Athens intends to create a resort that meets the stringent requirements for LEED certification and embraces the natural attributes of this unique beachfront setting. As part of this history, Athens has created a restrictive easement on 104 acres of the property that requires this area to remain recreation and open space in perpetuity. In addition, 70 acres of the 104 acres of recreation and open space will remain as permeable open space in order for the entire City to receive preferential flood insurance premiums.
TRAFFIC & STREET IMPROVEMENTS
Reducing traffic and creating a sense of peace and beauty
As set forth in the project’s Traffic Impact Statement that was prepared for the City and approved by the City Council, the Naples Beach Club is expected to reduce the resort’s overall traffic, especially during peak traffic hours. This reduction in traffic is a function of the reduction in overall hotel rooms from the current total of 319 hotel rooms to the new 216 hotel rooms. The existing parking and traffic situation will also be improved by the consolidation of the resort’s parking underneath the hotel and the Market Square, which will be served by a first-class valet parking program.
By including parking underneath these buildings, the amount of parking-related traffic from the resort on Gulf Shore Boulevard will be dramatically reduced since cars will no longer need to be shuttled to the other parking lots that are currently scattered throughout the property; cars will now be parked on-site as part of the hotel-related improvements. Parking also will be provided under each residential building for the resort’s residents.
GULF SHORE GARDEN
Transforming Gulf Shore Boulevard into a lushly landscaped passage
The Gulf Shore Garden plan envisions the transformation of the portion of Gulf Shore Boulevard that bisects the property into a lushly landscaped corridor that will further beautify this section of the City’s road network. In addition to landscaping and sidewalks, the plan preserves existing bike lanes and enhances the street to improve pedestrian safety, including a reduction in crossing points, a landscaped center pedestrian median, and an improved pedestrian “Coconut Connector” crossing with added safety features, including lighting.
Creating a luxurious experience that begins upon arrival
The current hotel has multiple surface parking lots that require the valet team to drive up and down Gulf Shore Boulevard from the hotel’s main entrance and the conference center, which results in increased street traffic. The new plan will significantly improve upon this condition to concentrate all of the hotel-related parking underneath the new hotel and the Market Square, which will reduce traffic on Gulf Shore Boulevard by eliminating unnecessary valet trips. As a developer and owner of five-star luxury hotels and resorts, Athens understands the importance of providing an enhanced valet parking program to better service the resort’s guests, and all hotel parking will now be managed by the hotel valet team. In addition, by removing surface parking lots, additional open space will be provided.
CITY REVIEW PROCESS
The Athens Group has received approvals for all discretionary entitlements necessary to proceed with the development of the Naples Beach Club. A summary of those entitlements is included here. The Athens Group continues to work through the extensive permitting processes with local, state and federal agencies to ensure its responsible development of the property.
The City of Naples has a multi-step review and approval process that includes City planning staff and many City departments, such as Streets and Stormwater, FEMA and the fire department, as well as the Design Review Board, the Planning Advisory Board, and the Naples City Council. In addition, key components of the project will be thoroughly reviewed and approved by the state, such as its stormwater runoff and water quality plans.
The Naples Beach Club project received unanimous preliminary Design Review Board approval with some conditions on November 28, 2018.
The project received unanimous approval from the Planning Advisory Board on March 13, 2019, after two hearings for a Small-Scale Comp Plan Amendment, a Rezoning for a Planned Development, a Rezoning of the R3T-18 zoned area, a Traffic Impact Statement, and a Development Agreement. These same documents were unanimously approved by the City Council on April 17, 2019, and were approved again on May 1, 2019 with respect to the second reading of the resolutions and ordinances.
Following the first round of PAB and City Council approvals, City staff reviewed the development plan through the required Administrative Site Plan (ASP) process. The ASP application was recommended for approval with some conditions by the City of Naples planning staff on August 26, 2019.
On August 27, 2019, The Athens Group submitted the following project entitlement applications to the City: Conditional Use, PD Rezoning, Development Agreement, Parking Needs Analysis, Valet Parking Plan, and Supplemental Traffic Impact Statement. The Naples Planning Advisory Board reviewed and considered the applications at a public hearing on Friday, October 11, 2019, and the PAB approved the applications by four 6-to-1 votes.
The Naples City Council voted unanimously to approve the entitlement applications on November 20, 2019, and again voted to approve the resolutions and ordinances with respect to a second reading on December 4, 2019.
The three Environmental Resource Permits detailed below regulate stormwater discharge offsite and follow strict guidelines as required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Based on the analysis provided by the project’s civil engineer, the redevelopment of the hotel, residences and golf course will decrease water volume to the Gulf of Mexico while improving discharge water quality.
Stormwater permits received:
- FDEP Environmental Resource Permit number 387544-001 (redevelopment west of Gulf Shore Blvd. North)
- FDEP Environmental Resource Permit number 0387536-001 EG (redevelopment of Gulf Shore Blvd.)
- SFWMD Environmental Resource Permit number 11-103750-P (redevelopment of landward of Gulf Shore Blvd.)
Subdivision Plat Approval:
Resolution 2020-14523 was approved by City Council on September 16, 2020, for a subdivision replat located at 851 and 852 Gulf Shore Blvd. North, 1090 Crayton Road, and 485, 801 and 825 South Golf Drive. The Subdivision replat was recorded in Collier County within Plat book 68, pages 52-56. (Resolution approved unanimously)
The purpose of the replat was to create multiple tracts that are consistent with the zoning district boundaries established by previously approved rezoning entitlements.