Lots of changes will be happening soon to a lot of iconic buildings in downtown Naples.
Last summer Joe’s Crab Shack in Naples closed its doors. It was a landmark building in one of the most visible spots in the city, right next to the Gordon River Bridge. It was a ramshackle mix of buildings that pretty convincingly felt old and even smelled fishy, with a cornball sense of fun.
For the last year I was hoping that a restaurant like The House of Blues or even The Hard Rock Café would love the space and improve it. Unfortunately the building is going to be demolished and a Hyatt Place hotel put in this waterfront location. Too bad.
Just a few blocks down the street, where Highway 41 turns east toward Miami or west to the beach, is what remains of St. George and The Dragon, one of Naples’ oldest restaurants. It closed a couple of years ago.
The new owners plan to demolish it and the iconic building, a relic from the days of prime rib and martinis, will be most likely a mix of retail and residential in the next year.
Then last week, a rumor spread that the Plaza on Third, the enormous concrete behemoth of a shopping mall that has sat virtually empty for the last five years, was going to be demolished before the high tourist season started.
This shopping mall has been troubled for the last 10 years at least, and neighbors and neighboring businesses have complained about such a valuable, visible property being an eyesore on Naples’ prettiest street.
The rumors have always been that a boutique hotel would be built on the spot once the parking issues could be solved. Providing enough parking, especially in Naples’ older historic area, is always a struggle for businesses.
But just as soon as the owners talked about demolishing, they changed their minds and the building will sit there until a new plan has been decided.
St. George and the Dragon in Naples. (Photo: Sharon Kenny/Special to The News-Press )