With Gulfshore Playhouse poised to close on its purchase of a three-acre tract within Naples Square in Downtown Naples in mid-August, The Ronto Group’s vision of a community that not only enriches the entire Downtown District, but also provides its residents with a truly walkable lifestyle has taken on an added dimension. As planned, Gulfshore Playhouse will build a multimillion-dollar 56,000 square feet complex that will include two theaters and an education wing to support programming for children, adults and families. The complex will be located at Goodlette-Frank Road and First Avenue South on the northern end of Ronto’s 300-unit Naples Square development. Two of the development’s four residential buildings have been completed. Construction of the third building is expected to start in fourth quarter of this year.
The presence of the Gulfshore Playhouse complex will put a regional theater at the doorsteps of Naples Squares’ residents and be easily accessible to residents of Downtown Naples and beyond. The complex will serve as an anchor for The Shoppes at Naples Square, a combination of retail and restaurant space Ronto is developing on the eastern edge of Naples Square. With zoning of up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space already approved, Ronto envisions The Shoppes at Naples Square as a compliment to Naples Square’s walkable lifestyle. The Shoppes will provide residents with choices of both casual and full service upscale dining with outdoor seating within steps of their residences. Plans for the Shoppes at Naples Square are being developed and Ronto anticipates retail openings in 2019. The Gulfshore Playhouse complex is expected to further enhance the appeal of The Shoppes at Naples Square location for prospective tenants, particularly restaurants.
The Shoppes at Naples Square and the Gulfshore Playhouse complex will have a positive impact on the vibrancy of the Downtown District. For residents of Naples Square, the impact will be even more significant. With the introduction of the Shoppes and the theater and education complex, Naples Square will become a self-sufficient neighborhood within downtown that offers residents immediate, walkable accessibility to dining, shopping, convenience retail, and fine arts entertainment. That combination of connection and accessibility is at the heart of Ronto’s vision at Naples Square.
“The addition of Gulfshore Playhouse to the Naples Square development helps in meeting our vision of a vibrant, walkable neighborhood that offers a place to live, shop, dine and, now, attend a high-quality theater production,” said Anthony Solomon, executive vice president and owner of The Ronto Group. “This cultural asset will be an outstanding benefit to all of Olde Naples and is the perfect anchor to The Shoppes at Naples Square.”
“We’re excited about being at the gateway to downtown, within walking distance for people in Old Naples, and being able to help extend 5th Avenue and to enliven the things that are already there, such as Bayfront and Tin City,” said Gulfshore Playhouse founder and producing artistic director Kristen Coury. “We think we’re going to be a great addition to what Naples Square has got going on in terms of shopping and dining. Having a world class professional theatre and education complex right there is going to be incredible. We look forward to being part of the community.”
In addition to creating a walkable lifestyle, Naples Square’s landscaped streetscapes lined with palm trees and native vegetation, roundabouts, and water features have enhanced the look of the downtown district. A dedicated public linear park lines Goodlette-Frank on the extreme eastern edge of the Naples Square site. The linear park contributes to Naples Square’s sense of entry and reinforces the community’s lifestyle that is focused on walkability and connectivity to downtown. As planned, the Gulfshore Playhouse complex will be designed as a community landmark with public areas that can be visited without buying tickets to a performance.
The Gulfshore Playhouse complex will cost an estimated $45 million, including the land. Patty and Jay Baker have committed to a $10 million matching gift and fundraising is underway. Coury anticipates groundbreaking will be in 12 to 18 months.
The Ronto Group and Gulfshore Playhouse have enjoyed a long and positive relationship. Ronto Founder A. Jack Solomon and his wife Cheryl have been longtime supporters and the company’s TwinEagles development in North Naples will host the Gulfshore Playhouse golf tournament fundraising event for the fifth time on October 23rd. To support the effort, Ronto provides use of TwinEagles’ heralded Talon golf course, the same course that will host the 2018 Chubb Classic PGA TOUR Champions Golf Tournament that will be held next February 12th through 18th, lunch and dinner for the tournament participants and sponsors at TwinEagles’ 47,000 square-foot clubhouse, and merchandise that can be sold to enhance the fundraising effort, all at no cost to Gulfshore Playhouse.
“Cheryl and Jack have been supporters in every way,” said Coury. “Four years ago, they offered to sponsor our golf tournament. They actually donated Twin Eagles on a day in October for us to have our tournament there. The tournament is a key part of our fundraising efforts. It’s our oldest ongoing annual fundraiser. This year will be our 13th annual. It’s really our signature fundraiser and it’s a really big deal for us.”
In addition to Naples Square and TwinEagles, The Ronto Group is developing the Seaglass high-rise tower within Bonita Bay, and Orange Blossom. A new project on Central Avenue in downtown Naples is in development. The Naples Square Sales Gallery at 100 South Goodlette-Frank Road in downtown Naples is open daily. Visit NaplesSquare.com.