The Naples You Know and Don't Know
"A side of Naples most see, but few know about"
This being the first blog of this type on our page in its year and a half history, it may be a bit longer, but hopefully you'll gain some insight into who we are that run the page, and through that you can learn a bit about what it is like to live in Naples, Fl year around, year after year, along with the changes that often take place that few tourists may ever even realize. This first blog is going to be almost like two blogs in one. Hey, it’s the first one, and we've got a lot to cover here! Hopefully you won't be too bored and can find some enjoyment and see what it's like to live here, which has both amazing sides, and some disappointing sides to it.
First thing first. If you've been following us for a while (and again, thank you all for getting us over 1,000 likes recently! We really appreciate that people enjoy following us!), you know that we typically post photos, and have never really told you much about us. I guess we're just shy, and so it's taken us a year and a half or so to finally getting around to introducing ourselves. We may have arrived to the party a bit late but, hey, at least we're here! :) Ok, so it's pretty simple and I'll make this short and sweet so as not to bore you too much. The facebook page is run by myself and my brother in law. We married sisters. We're two guys who connected pretty quickly after marrying our wives. My wife and I (33 yrs old) will be married 10 years this March, along with celebrating the birth of our second son right around our anniversary date! I was born and raised in Concord, NC (suburb north of Charlotte). I'm a big-time Panthers fan, and have adopted the Miami Marlins baseball team as my team (some of the time has changed me from a Braves fan to a Marlins fan, but nothing will change my love of the Carolina Panthers!). Oh yeah, and DUKE basketball is more of a religion than a "team" for me. Have you ever cried after a game? I have! (Wait, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.ooops!). Our other son is 5 years old. My brother in law, since he's not with me while I'm blogging this, I'll be pretty careful of his privacy to simply say he's a great guy who hails from the great state of Maryland. He's a big time Redskins fan and Orioles fan, even though he's sort of adopted the Marlins as his backup team and we go to games together in Miami (not to mention attended the 2003 World Series Game 4 vs the Yankees. What an experience!). My brother in law has been married for eons, okay, I don’t know exactly how many years but it's been close to 15 and he's got two beautiful boys, (3, and a newborn). My brother in law, got me into photography years ago, and it just clicked and we've both just gone forward with our photography passion from there. Its been interesting to see how we've both grown in our love for photos, how the styles are different and how we both started pretty much at point-and-shoots to using professional grade photography equipment today. Okay, so now you know a bit about us, let's now get to the blog (told you the first would be long. Had to get a bit of house-cleaning out of the way!
One thing that you notice very quickly when you come to Naples is, it's a seemingly very wealthy town. Naples at one point (and possibly currently still) has more millionaires per capita than any city in the United States. Naples is a tucked away community with absolutely stunning beaches. Several years ago, Travel Channel named Naples Beach as the top beach in America. Its also been named Top Beach Town in America by other publishers. There's no doubt, the experience on 5th Avenue South, down to the beach is pretty unbeatable. For those that have been here, you know this, for those that have not, basically we have a very nice district between the 5th Avenue area and 3rd Street South areas of town. Both areas are basically side by side and run right down to the water. Basically you can have a 5-star dinner on 5th Avenue South, finish it up with a glass of wine, followed by a 5 minute walk to the beach where at night there are very few lights and often times the moon is the brightest light on the beach. Naples, unlike many tourist areas, has a large stretch of beach with no condos, no hotels and only private residences along the beach. However, there's plenty of public access parking so it’s a great place to just go and relax at night. I remember those days…..and then I became a "local" :).
While Naples is a fairly wealthy community, and most tourists stay in those areas, a few miles inland, Naples is a town just like any other town in America. It’s a nice town of working class people who live life just like anyone else. In fact, we rarely venture down to the areas the tourists are, sometimes due to crowds, and many times because frankly, we just can't afford those places you tourists like to visit! LOL. This is why I realize looking back just how fortunate my wife was to grow up just blocks from the beach, and only four blocks from 5th Avenue South and just a few blocks from the famous Naples Pier. While there are incredibly expensive and gorgeous homes/mansions all along this area for a few miles (often referred to as "millionaire's row"), many of the homes are quite old, quaint and are owned by people who have lived in those same homes for decades. Most of those people are not wealthy people, and have been able to stay in their homes by being "grandfathered" in on property tax values. Today many of those people can sell those homes for millions that were bought for thousands originally. When you drive along Gulf Shore Boulevard, you will see an incredible amount of construction going on. New mansions are going up every single day now. The economy is clearly picking up steam along the shore in Naples. Jobs are still hard to find in town in areas but, you have to realize, most of these incredible mansions are actually "vacation homes" for people who live elsewhere. Talk about disposable income! Many tourists drive these roads admiring these homes, and admiring the beautiful architecture of Naples (much of the architecture in Naples is actually pulled from the Naples area of Italy). The homes are magnificent, and what some of you may not know, when in office, President George W. Bush visited Naples twice, both times visiting a resident at the very end of Gordon Drive. If you are unfamiliar, it's basically the road that takes you to the dead end, in old Naples, by Port Royal. If you drive to the end of the road, where it turns you around, there is a house to the right (the last home on the street). From the street you can pretty much just see the driveway. This is where President Bush visited twice during his time in office. More recently First Lady Michelle Obama visited Naples for an event. While many times celebrities are dressed in a manner hard to recognize, you shouldn't be surprised to be in Naples and hear whispers of famous celebrities sitting nearby if out to dinner or at a show.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkviGqrbAwo (President Bush in Naples)
However, while we all admire the beauty of the homes along this area, I'd like to personally let you know to remember sometimes the other side of the coin. While we all grow up and move on from where we were raised, Naples is a small town at it's heart even though it's known worldwide. Many families (though the number is shrinking), have been here for generations and grown children still go to visit their parents at the homes they themselves grew up in. This is the case for my wife. My wife's parents lived in their same house in "Old Naples" for decades. The home was modest, but very nice. The property, gorgeous. The home, a ranch style with a swimming pool in the back with a towering, mammoth grapefruit tree overshadowing the pool in the afternoons. It was absolutely beautiful and a great joy to be there. However, both of my wife's parents passed away unexpectedly, with my wife's mother succombing to breast cancer just after Christmas in 2011. This is the side of Naples most tourists don’t see. Because of the location of the home, when my mother in law passed away, immediately the property is re-evaluated for tax purposes and a new property tax value is assessed based on current land values, which are astronomical compared to when these families moved to these homes in the 60's and 70's, and some even before that. Most of the families that live in these modest homes among mansions in the most beautiful part of Naples are in fact, not wealthy at all. Many of them retired, live paycheck to paycheck and spend most of their time at home enjoying the neighborhood around them, while watching it literally morph in front of them. When I moved here 11 years ago, nearly all of the homes on the block my wife grew up in were modest, older, family homes. Before my mother in law passed away, only two of those homes (my mother in law's being one) still stood. In Naples there is a different mindset than most towns, and while its great for the tourists to see, it's often hard for us locals to watch. When my mother in law passed, quite simply we could not afford as a family to pay the new property taxes (this is common all around this part of Naples). In many cases, such as ours in this situation, the family is forced to put the home up for sale quickly. In most cases, once the home is sold, it is demolished for a new mansion. These homes have history, memories and decades of charm added to them. Its sad to see them go. This past week was a tough one for my wife as the home she grew up in was torn down. I got to walk through the home along with my brother in law, the day before it was torn down, and grab a thing or two for my wife that was still in there that we had missed in the shuffle to get things out. Its tough to see a part of family history go, and it brings back the memories that took place there. It also unfortunately brings back the reality that the family member that kept that house from being demolished is no longer with us. Its something you just have to realize is part of the culture of this town. It’s a small town with really big money, and honestly most of the money is not in Naples but all around the world where people buy properties here to stay at when visiting. So, next time your'e here, if you visit, and you see a new mansion being built, just know, there's probably a family who grew up on that property and wishes they still had the ability to be there. By all means, its just part of life here and those new homes just make Naples much more beautiful every single day. However, Naples and "history" seem to be clashing. Much of Naples' older locations are being demolished for new ones. Just this last year the original A-Frame Dairy Queen on Hwy 41 closed. Currently they have it fenced off, and I'm hoping they keep the building but we're not sure yet. Fortunately there's a new Diary Queen just a block away! What would we do down here without a DQ? Maybe lose a few lbs…..which wouldn’t hurt, but hey, I'll still take having a DQ any day! Not all rebuilding is bad though, along with our new indoor DQ, the Publix on 41 across from the mall was completely torn down and rebuilt and is one of the nicest grocery stores I've ever seen! In fact the entire plaza was remodeled as well. Very nice area over there!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XpFet4khLU&sns=em (demolition of family home)
Thanks for checking out my first blog! Hopefully it wasn’t too boring! Post to you guys soon and feel free to ask ?'s if you want!
Director of Sales
Sky Angel U.S., LLC
1300 Goodlette Rd.
Naples, Fl. 34102
239-963-3200 Ext. 236
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