by Capt. Jim Kalvin
I moved to Naples In 1965 from Miami with my family. It was a friendly place where neighbors knew their neighbors, and people respected one another regardless of what they did for a living or where they came from. Standing in line at the sporting goods store, that man in the cover-alls might have been a farm hand – or he might have owned one of the largest coatings manufacturing businesses in the country. The woman looking at produce in Sunshine Foodway could have been a teacher or a world-famous philanthropist. Naples had it all. People came here to relax.
With a bustling new community, needs grew, and industries grew with the increasing demand for services. Folks then seemed to know that the supply of goods and services meant that commercial properties were not only needed, but should be encouraged and supported. Nobody then was “offended” by an industrial piece of real estate. It meant that they could get their needs met locally by people they knew.
Fast forward to 2018, and I’d like to concentrate on one particular industry for now – one guess what that might be. Since the 70’s, Naples waterfront has lost the following commercial businesses: Boat Haven, which was where Naples Bay Resort is. Daniels Boatworks – which was where Tin City is. Nelson Marine / Gulf Marine – which is now a vacant slab over by the City Dock. Brookside Marina is gone. Bay Marina is largely a commercial loading site to service Keewaydin Island. Port-o-Call Marina was redeveloped into condominium storage. And Hanson Marine / Great American Boatyard is now Marine Max, and they serve mainly their own retail customers.
The Turner property, which formerly had a commercial fish-house and one of the largest marina facilities on the West Coast, was redeveloped into a multi-use property which currently includes Naples Boat Club condominium boat storage, residential waterfront condominiums, 2 commercial boat slips, a bunch of privately owned boat slips, Burkhard Yacht Sales, Freedom Waters Foundation, the Marine Industries Association, Coastal Marine Fuel, Naples Yacht Brokerage, Denisen Yacht Sales, Formula Yacht Sales, The Wharf Tavern, Diversified Yacht Services, and Molly’s Marine.
The property serves a great number of people in many ways. The “anchor” of the property in my humble opinion, is Molly’s Marine. A full-service marina facility that utilizes the waterfront adjacent to the Boat Club, Molly’s is the only public marina on Naples Bay equipped to haul vessels up to 70 tons. With hundreds of vessels in Collier County that need these services, certainly this is a business that is beneficial to the City.
But this is now and times have changed. A lawsuit has been filed against Molly’s Marine by some of the adjoining property tenants who want the boatyard to be gone. It was there when they bought their units, mind you. But now it’s a “nuisance” and they are suing to cease marina operations.
Molly’s not only performs work on private client vessels servicing Port Royal, Royal Harbor, Marco Island, and Park Shore, as well as transient mariners, the facility also welcomes other tradesmen – painters, carpenters, detailers, electronics technicians, mechanics, fiberglass repair shops, other boatyards, sign makers, welders, canvas companies, and more. That small slab of commercial concrete in down-town Naples provides jobs and livelihoods for hundreds of local tradesmen and their families.
But for the “new residents”, this is irrelevant. Funny how their units were likely “more affordable” (cheaper) due to the commercial aspect of the entire property. But now they’re too good to be associated with such goings’-on. Shame on them. Just because this type of action has become typical in Naples doesn’t mean it’s right.
There are condominiums that exist in Naples, on the water, that do not have any commercial element whatsoever. They should have bought one of those.
Naples loses a little more of the old-time charm with each passing season. It’s harder and harder to find good people to provide needed services and skilled trades. If Molly’s goes away, this will move that bar to a new height. Vessel Owners will have to travel to Ft. Myers and beyond for their haul-out work.
Stop in and see Molly, and ask how you can help. The turret of the big legal gun has her, her employees, her subcontractors, and her clients in the cross-hairs. And that’s not how the Naples I grew up in took care of its’ neighbors.