THE FUTURE OF NAPLES – A CITY IN TRANSFORMATION
This morning we had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Ellie Krier, Naples Area Board of Realtor’s Governmental Affairs Director, about current developments in Naples, FL and what the future will hold.
Naples has been a dynamic region for decades, turning from a sleepy fishing village to a mid-sized Metropolis. In fact, the peak seasonal population during the year 2000 was only 309,000 in the County. By the year 2013 this number has increased to 405,000 peak season residents, an increase of 31% over the past 12 years. This growth is not showing any sign of a slow down – with Naples and Collier County’s population anticipated to reach close to 500,000 in the next 10-15 years.
Expanding Infrastructure & Housing
New construction has been the name of the game in Collier County over the past months. It seems everywhere you look there is a new housing development popping up. While this is good news, it also means that parcels of land which had been forest or swamp are being turned into new places to live.
This is somewhat of a flash-back to the late 1990’s where the growth of housing outpaced the growth of infrastructure. At that time, heavy traffic and traffic jams where a daily occurrence. Eventually (with road expansion projects, such as Livingston Rd. or the widening of Vanderbilt Beach Rd) the infrastructure caught up with housing development. However, it does appear at this point that fast growth in the housing market could bring back infrastructure problems, particularly in East Naples – where the fastest growth in housing developments is currently observed.
Economic development in Naples, FL remains strong at the moment with the two largest industries, real estate and hospitality, performing strongly. As we had mentioned before, Naples is projected to have the fastest growing economy in the United States during the year 2014, adding 6.4%
Aside from the traditional industries found in Naples, FL (the two mentioned above, plus agriculture) county leadership is working diligently to bring new, innovative industries to Collier County. While this is likely a more long-term endeavor, things are shaping up to continued economic growth for the county.
With economic growth and housing expansion the city of Naples, and Collier County is experiencing a change in demographics. While Southwest Florida was long considered “god’s waiting room” – i.e. a great place to retire – there is a massive inflow of young professionals and families. With weather as excellent as this, who can blame them for wanting to live here in paradise.
However, the infrastructure demands of a younger population need to be addressed – and the County has shown a lot of progress here. Particularly recreational offerings such as the Gordon River Greenway are major steps in the direction of making Naples are more family friendly place to live.
Additionally, it appears that economic development plans call for attracting more companies to the Naples area, which will further drive down the average age, making this town even younger..