End of an era: Naples 5th Ave. businesses close down

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NAPLES, Fla.- It’s the end of an era along Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples as several businesses are forced to close up shop to make room for a new building.

“It’s definitely going to change Fifth Avenue,” said Franco Iribarren. “People don’t want this but… that’s how life is.”

For more than a decade, Iribarren and his family have owned Bella Maria Cafe in the 480 block of Fifth Avenue South.

“We’ve already done 12 years,” Iribarren said. “[But] when a door closes, three or four open up.”

Cafe Luna, another restaurant affected by the new construction plans, went dark Sunday and has already opened a new location in North Naples, while Kohr’s Frozen Custard shop closed Wednesday.

“You hate to see small shops, local owners, entrepreneurs sort of losing the ability to continue making this very unique and special,” said Dennis Nally.

Friday will be the last day for Avenue Wine Bar and Bella Maria Cafe.

“You just hope it doesn’t change the character and what makes this place so special,” Nally added. “Hopefully it won’t do that but time will tell.”

A three-story building with residential and commercial space and an underground parking garage will be built where the shops once stood.

“I do sympathize with the people,” said Mayor Bill Barnett. “Maybe we ought to say Fifth Avenue South is refreshing itself.”

Construction crews will put up a fence around the area on Monday. The building will be demolished around mid-May after all hazardous materials are removed.

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