The site that has sat vacant at the corner of SR951 and Davis Boulevard for roughly 10 years will soon have a tenant. Amazon is reported to have entered into a lease for the property with Benderson Development Company out of Sarasota.
“It’s a last–mile facility,” said Deputy County Manager Nick Casalanguida. “It’s not one of their major ones. They call them their last two-hour distribution sites. They have their major warehouses in the middle of the state. They’re figuring out that they need their smaller sub hubs. That’s what I’m hearing from talking to vendors and the people leasing it to them. They’re last–mile facilities, where the vans work out of. The tractor–trailers drop off, but the vans will come in here and do their distribution.”
Not everyone is thrilled to have Amazon occupying the site.
“The Amazon building, as we’re now calling it,” said County Commissioner Donna Fiala. “We used to call it the skeleton building. The owner of the shopping area there really did not take care of it at all. I was pretty upset with them.
“It sat vacant for a long time. Then they finally found a real good merchant. It was going to be a BJ’s. And it’s really popular; it’s kind of like a Costco. That was really a great thing. We could really use something like that on this side of town.
“The thing is the state said the traffic light had to be where they told them. BJ’s didn’t want it there. They wanted it by their entryway. SR951 and Davis Boulevard are both owned by FDOT. The state said that it would be dangerous. They said it has to be safe or we’re not going to give it to you. We were so disappointed. Everyone was counting on them to come in. It would have been a great asset. It didn’t happen.”
At one time, Target was supposed to locate there.
“We were all hoping it would be a Target,” Fiala stated. “The owner of the property was also hoping it would be a Target. But Target came into that big mess where the infiltrators got into their computers and caused millions and millions of dollars of damage. That put Target out of business for a while. They had so much to recover; so they pulled out. That was another sad case.
“BJ’s or Target would have been nice because we all could have used it. Nobody can use this. It’s a distribution center. It’s nice and all, but it’s nothing that we can shop in or use. I’m glad it’s going to look nice, but I can’t say that I’m thrilled with it. We desperately need places to shop in this area as well as nice places to eat. We’re just so limited.”
Casalanguida didn’t have an opinion of whether Amazon moving onto the property was a good or bad thing. “We try to be apolitical about projects like this,” he said. “It’s business, the property’s been vacant for so long. Amazon’s not going away. In essence, for Collier County, it’s a benefit that they’ll have a last–mile distribution center here. From what could be there, this thing could have been a big box. From a traffic standpoint, it’s probably better as an Amazon site. So I think it’s a good opportunity for the community to get that site cleaned up. Looking at it in terms of this COVID thing, people like to shop online, that’s not going away.
Casalanguida hasn’t spoken to anyone from Amazon.
“Amazon’s kind of on the QT with everything they do,” he said. “We have the gist of what’s going on. There’s no spokesperson for Amazon.”