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  • Writer's pictureMayor Teresa Heitmann

State of the City

Naples Pier | DimaSid


Dear Neighbor,

Excitement has been building as we approach the 100th birthday of the City of Naples. For over a year we have examined the early years of our city’s history and have been reminded that our unique and special place has been informed and cared for by many stewards, some of whom are known to us only upon reflection of our history.

What began as two hundred people with an appreciation for a small-town character living and working on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico has evolved into our many beautiful and diverse neighborhoods of residents who continue to share the values of those who came before them.

The tenacity and perseverance of city residents over the years are profoundly demonstrated in efforts to save the iconic pier, one of the first two structures built in 1888. A hurricane in 1910 destroyed the Naples Pier and it was rebuilt to a length of 1,000 feet, only to be rebuilt again as the result of hurricane damage in 1926, 1944, and 1960. It was designated a State Historic Site in the 1970s and rebuilt to modern standards in 1995. We find ourselves persevering once again as we prepare to rebuild our pier following Hurricane Ian.

Our main commercial districts and thriving business communities are nestled into our neighborhoods. The development of the Third Street shopping district in Old Naples was rooted in unique charm and there has been an unrelenting passion for preserving it. Leading that charge for more than 29 years is landowner and businesswoman Joan Tobin, who in 1994 became the principal of Neapolitan Enterprises which her family started after coming to Naples in 1946. Ms. Tobin’s parents bought the Mercantile building on Third Street South, “It had the sorts of things my parents liked, and their friends liked, and people began to come in great numbers.” Over the next decade, many other merchants came as the charm and character of the district was safeguarded.

Fifth Avenue South, developed between 1930 – 1939 has become a leading destination for shoppers and diners. As it has redeveloped, the character of the avenue has been influenced by the Charter Height Amendment passed by the voters which decrees that commercial buildings will be limited to three floors and 42 feet of height. The city council recently removed the mandate that new developments must be built to the lot line, allowing for even more character and architectural diversity on the avenue.

Ensuring resident values as the bedrock of the management of our city began in the 1940s when the town council created The Naples Plan, designed “To Make Naples a Better Place to Live.” Faced with continued development in the city and on our boundaries, residents in 2007 formally expressed their interest in maintaining small town charm and character and protecting our environment, and the city adopted a ten-year vision plan: “Preserving Naples: A Vision Plan to Keep the Best of the Past while Building a Better Community for the Future.” In 2017, these values were affirmed by our residents, citywide, concerned with over-development and the protection of our environment.

It is clear that protecting our neighborhoods, having an eye for smart redevelopment while supporting a robust business community, and ensuring a proper balance of commercial and residential interests are critical to our town’s preservation. I am honored and humbled to be entrusted as one of the critical stewards of our great city. As we celebrate this historic milestone birthday, I welcome our residents to visit the city website for details on our celebrations, to join us, and to stay engaged with the government. It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I look to the next 100 years of our beautiful city.

Mayor Teresa Heitmann


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