East Naples Comes Alive

While Naples is well known for its upscale shops and restaurants, East Naples hasn’t always had a favorable reputation. In more recent years, however, the area has come alive with new places to see and experience, as it reemerges as an eclectic and reimagined place to live and visit.

The former fishing community of Bayshore was once seen as an affordable alternative for those who helped make Collier County into what it is today. The main north/south roadway of Bayshore Drive was once known as Kelly Road, but it sadly became known more widely as the county’s red-light district, thanks to rampant prostitution and crime years ago.

While the name of the road was changed over time, it took years for this long-neglected portion of the county to get much needed attention and redevelopment. For decades, local officials tried to entice developers to come to Bayshore, but not much happened. 

A couple of years ago, new progress finally seemed within reach, when developers proposed building a trio of towers for new shops, restaurants, and luxury condos in East Naples. It was the first agreement Collier County had made with developers through the Community Redevelopment Agency, which was formed to help spur growth in designated areas.

Another developer soon came forward with his own idea to construct a hotel, restaurants, shops, and luxury condos close to Metropolitan Naples. As for the greater area, the Bayshore Arts District is now touted as a waterfront community to live, work, and play.

It’s also described as the gateway to Naples Botanical Garden, which sits along Bayshore Drive. The garden is open daily, during select hours. It commonly hosts a number of different seasonal events and exhibitions. 

While originally founded in the mid 1990s, construction on Naples Botanical Garden began about 15 years ago, and portions of it opened in phases. It’s said hundreds of thousands of visitors now come to the garden each and every year.

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