5th Ave. businesses could be forced to close to make room for new development

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NAPLES, Fla. – Dozens of people working on 5th Avenue South in Naples could lose their jobs.

On Wednesday, the Naples City Council voted to allow a new development to be built, meaning a building housing several popular restaurants including Cafe Luna, Bella Maria Cafe and Avenue Wine Cafe, would be demolished.

“I’m very disappointed with the decision,” said nearby homeowner, Robert Martin.

Plans for the new development include a three-story building with commercial and residential space. It also calls for an underground parking garage with 43 spots. Martin is concerned about potential flooding.

“We’re all uncertain about that and I think it’s only appropriate we have that independent non-bias study done before the vote is made by City Council,” said Martin.

But, City Council voted in favor of the new plan, anyway. It passed 5 to 2. The move could mean dozens of people who work at the restaurants would be out of a job.

Jim Smith owns property on 5th Avenue. He says the street already has plenty of restaurants and that City Council made the right move to help bring in customers.

“It’s just gonna be great for the street,” said Smith. “We’re replacing older, 50s type of building with a new state of the art building, and it’s gonna add retail to the street.”

Martin says that’s little assurance for him and his neighbors.

“I’m concerned how it may impact the community,” said Martin.

The restaurants would be set to close next spring.

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