Now THIS is our beautiful winter weather. It took a long time to get here, and we won’t have as much time to enjoy it as we would have had it come on time, so we’ll have to just enjoy it all the more right now!
*Were you at the grand opening of the new Stein Mart on 951/41 on Thursday, March 10th? What a warm and excited reception they received! I bet we surprised them with all with the people so eager for a new store to open! I only stayed a short time before getting back to the office, but I saw many, many friends in that short time! I’ve never been in a Stein Mart, so this was an especially happy experience for me, and being that it’s the first retail clothing store that has opened in this area in well over a decade, it was especially welcome. Up until now we’ve had Bealls and Anthony’s, and they are very nice, don’t get me wrong, but it was nice to have another place to shop as well, so we would have a more varied selection to choose from. And don’t blink very hard, because Marshall’s is gearing up to open by the end of March, so you’d better stay in town just a little longer so you can welcome them as well! They also need a marvelous welcome. It seems every new store has been overwhelmed with business and happy shoppers, whether it be the first entry, the Fresh Market, or restaurants: Carrabba’s, Outback Steakhouse, Burger Fi and 21 Spices. They have all been more than warmly received, and happy to see all the shoppers. The entire area has needed places to go, from Marco Island to Fiddler’s, to Capri, to Eagle Creek, to Lely Resort, to Verona Walk, to Forest Glen, to Imperial Wilderness, to Reflection Lakes, and soon Naples Reserve and Winding Cypress, plus of course Lely Golf Estates and Lely Country Club Estates, and then we have Royal Wood and Lakewood…my goodness, the retailers and restaurants have missed a lot by not coming to our area. They never looked beyond US 41E to see what was hiding behind it. We never even mentioned King’s Lake, Queens Park, Fox Fire, Country Side, etc. I hope some other enterprising establishments read this and in astonishment say I think we overlooked a whole segment of our market, while they all flock to the north end of the county and divide each other’s business. After most people have left for the summer, the building of new businesses, and hence new jobs, will continue. By the time our winter residents get back, we should have a warm welcome waiting for them with some new eating establishments, gas stations (I know – WaWa isn’t a gas station, but a great place to shop and buy gas), and retail stores. It feels so good to have these businesses recognize our potential. Thanks to Kite Realty, who saw the promise and acted upon it, buying older shopping centers and upgrading them to become a thriving business, plus building a brand new shopping center. The improvement to this area has begun to happen, and I think Kite Realty was the start of it all.
• How about starting a letter writing campaign to plead with JoAnn Fabrics to come to our area and fill the old K-Mart space in Freedom Square Shopping Center? It sounds like a fun idea. Anyone want to help? Just let me know and I’ll get the address to write letters to.
• Have any of you heard about Project Help? It’s a very understated agency that reaches out quietly into the community to help those who need their help desperately. Their mission statement is: Project Help works with dignity and compassion to ease the pain of those affected by rape, violence, crime or loss of a loved one. If you ever need a speaker or an agency that you want to help, this is one that pulls at your heartstrings. They were founded right here in 1986, and have been quietly helping women and children who are victims of rape or abuse, including medical care, temporary housing, clothing, guidance through the judicial system, and so much more. If you’d like to find out more about this wonderful not-for-profit agency, please call 239-649-1404.
• For at least the next few months, I will not be writing for the Collier Citizen or the Marco Eagle, but happily I will still be writing for this wonderful little paper – the Coastal Breeze – which is filled with local news that we are all looking for. I will focus on writing for all areas that this newspaper covers. Before I wrote for both papers, so I tried to write according to where the paper was delivered, but now I have free range.
• Physician’s Regional will be opening the doors of their newest Urgent Care Clinic located at Rattlesnake Hammock Road & US 41 E behind the CVS Pharmacy – it’s the new white building that is being furnished inside as I write.
• Good news item: Goodland Road (92A) hasn’t flooded in almost two weeks! Poor Ann Porter couldn’t even get out for over 45 minutes to get to work. Let’s hope that fix comes in before someone gets hurt or worse.
• The Lely High School JROTC just went through an accreditation inspection at the end of January and came out in the top 1% in the NATION! Lely doesn’t get the accolades some of the schools in the northern part of the county receive, even though they perform very well, so I thought they could use a pat on the back, which they so richly deserve.