Plans for Collier County arts district tabled while officials seek new developer

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A 17-acre plot of land in Collier County could become the area’s next big hot spot.

It’s located near the intersection of Bayshore and Jeepers Drive.

The county wants to build a sprawling arts district on the land with apartments, shops and a performing arts center. But the problem is that no one wants to actually build it.

Stephen Jaron and his wife both own small businesses in the Bayshore area. His wife makes hand-crafted gold jewelry and Jaron renovates antiques.

Jaron is also running for a county commissioner seat this year and says his family moved to the area based on a specific promise.

That promise was to build a new community centered around a performing arts center. But it hasn’t been an easy promise to keep so far.

Debrah Forester, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency, says the last company contracted to develop the land backed out for financial reasons. But they’re hopeful to get the project back up and running soon.

“We’ve seen a lot of improvements in this area. What you’re seeing now is a rebirth and re excitement into the area,” Forester said.

The county bought the land between 2006 and 2008. And business owners in the area say they’re frustrated at the lack of progress since then.

“A lot of folks have kinda given up. They’re like, ‘wow, things aren’t happening.’ We take a step forward and two steps back,” Jaron said.

The area is, in fact, zoned for an arts district, so having a theater and art studios is what the people who live nearby would like to see get built.

The CRA says they hope to have a better idea of where they’ll go with the property in the fall, and hopefully a new developer will hop on board.

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