Naples, developer settle luxury condo, retail lawsuit

A delayed development planned for the gateway to Naples’ Fifth Avenue shopping center may move forward after the developer and the city reached an agreement on a lawsuit filed last year.

According to the city of Naples and the developer, M Development, the parties have reached an agreement that eliminates underground parking and agrees to forego large box merchants, according to a recent article by Louis Llovio of Business Observer.

The property, located on Fifth Avenue between the 900 and 1000 blocks, will be developed into a mixed-use building with 50 luxury condos and 75,000 square feet of boutique retail space. There will also be a tree-lined corridor to “create retail and pedestrian engagement.”

According to a M Development description, the property is situated on 4 acres of primarily unoccupied land between the commercial district and Naples Bay. The developer states that the land “currently consists of vacant, non-conforming buildings and lots that were damaged by Hurricane Ian.”

M Development purchased the property for $43.5 million in 2021.

The firm filed a lawsuit against the city on December 7, claiming that the municipal had stalled the project in large part due to parking concerns.

According to the lawsuit, on September 30, city leaders “in an action that would shock the conscience of any reasonable person” breached the law by “adopting a motion that imposed a moratorium on administrative approvals for projects containing underground parking garages.” According to the lawsuit, this was done to prevent city staff from approving a site plan application that was currently in the works.

The city, without hyperbole, disputed the accusation in a court filing, claiming that M Development lacked the jurisdiction to develop subterranean parking beneath public streets and alleys.

It contended that, while M Development “has not been denied all reasonable economic use of its property,” the proposed parking structure could not be built as planned without the use of the city’s streets and alleyways.

According to court documents, the two parties were instructed to enter into mediation on May 1.

The parking garage will now be developed at the southwest corner of the land.

With the settlement in place, it’s unknown what happens next or how long it will be until work on the project begins.

Ralf Brookes, the city’s lawyer, stated in an email that a move will be made to “hold the case in abeyance” until the site plan review is completed. Once the stages outlined in the agreement are fulfilled, the case will be dropped, he writes.

M Development’s spokesman declined to specify when work would begin or whether possible tenants had been identified. (The spokesman also declined to divulge the development costs.)

The emailed response to all three requests stated, “These details will be shared in a forthcoming press release.”

M Development is emerging as a big property owner in Naples. In November of last year, a month before filing its complaint, the business paid around $182 million for 27 properties from the Naples-based Hoffmann Family of Companies.

The property contained 12 properties on Fifth Avenue South, nine on Third Street South, and six off US 41 in Naples.

This article originally appeared on Business Observer.