Community members upset by potential changes to future redevelopment of Naples Beach Hotel

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Naples Beach Hotel. Credit: WINK News.

A historic family-owned club in Southwest Florida is about to be demolished, and people who live near it are fighting plans to change it every step of the way.

The Athens Group are now the owners of Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, and we reported previously about the development company’s plans to completely redevelop the property.

Neighbors fear they’ll lose what they were promised with the new owner’s changes. Some have even made signs that say, “Save the 18-hole golf course,” and are now calling the new renovations the “Athens Amusement Park”

“Their commitment was to preserve and enhance the hotel and the 18-hole golf course,” Charles Cox said.

But an overwhelming amount of people at Naples City Hall Thursday night were worried about the new plans.

Some of the outrage stems from a picture of the reimagined golf course from a sales brochure for the developer’s condos. It shows the 18-hole course downsized to 10 holes and plans to add a sports park complete with pickleball courts and a rock climbing wall.

“We were totally in favor of this whole development when it first presented,” Diane Ladley said.

Ladley and others, who went to the city meeting, live feet away from the hotel’s popular golf course.

“It’s a whole redo. It wasn’t anything like the first one,” Ladley said. “The lakes are all changed. They’re talking about putting eight tennis courts directly across from us, pickleball courts.”

In video from April 2019, the former Naples mayor questioned The Athens Group’s attorney about the golf course changes. At that time, it was confirmed the course would remain 18 holes for the redevelopment.

The property’s new staff defended the changes at the latest meeting The Athens Group told us there are requirements in the approved zoning that must guide development. The requirements do not specify an 18-hole golf course. The developers say they will take the community’s comments into account as they continue to work on the plan.

New changes have not yet been approved by the Naples Beach Hotel or new owners yet.

“Instead taking valuable acreage and creating this amusement-like sports park smack in the front yards of neighbors that have been here for years is just not right,” Mary Young said.

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