2022 People's Choice Winner: Bayshore Drive - Collier County

EDITOR'S NOTE: Hurricane Ian has impacted the corridor, but APA Florida is optimistic that the community will rebound like the rest of southwest Florida ravaged by the storm. The corridor was confirmed as the winner before the hurricane swept through the area, but the timing of the storm delayed this announcement. Voting occurred between Aug. 29 – Sept. 23. 

Stretching nearly 2 miles in unincorporated Collier County, Bayshore Drive has transformed from an underutilized corridor to a complete street and community asset, setting the standard for other jurisdictions looking to bring health, well-being and vibrancy to outdated roadways. Bayshore Drive promotes healthy and active lifestyles, advances the community’s quality of life and fosters social activity, while protecting and enhancing appreciation for the environment. 

Its physical design prioritizes accessibility for all users. Street design elements incorporated in both the public and private realm manifest the vision for a waterfront cultural arts district.

Bayshore Drive is designed as a complete street, accommodating four lanes of vehicle traffic plus green painted bike lanes, and sidewalks shaded with street trees and decorative lighting. This design provides for the safety of users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, motorists, and freight handlers.

Completed in June 2021, the Bayshore Drive and Thomasson Drive Roundabout creates a gateway at the southern end of the corridor. The southeast corner of the intersection features a public plaza with benches, memorial plaque and signage dedicated to Del Ackerman, a local business owner and contributor to the Bayshore community for 57 years. These attributes enhance comfort and safety for those who use the corridor for healthy, active living and essential mobility. 

Sidewalks are heavily used along both sides of Bayshore Drive to connect businesses, community amenities, adjacent neighborhoods, and nearby destinations. Signalized crossings, enhanced crosswalks, ADA compliant curb ramps, and pedestrian-scale lighting contribute to the quality of the pedestrian experience and encourage walking activity. Bayshore Drive is linked by pedestrian connection to nearby Sugden Regional Park and East Naples Community Park.

Bike lanes along Bayshore Drive are painted green to highlight and promote awareness of cyclists to reduce potential vehicular encroachments. These were the first Green Bike Lanes completed in Florida and are still used as a model for other communities nationwide. Transit facilities also serve the street, and an electric shuttle is planned to support the “park once” environment along the nearly two-mile corridor. 

Adjacent land uses help cultivate Bayshore Drive as a Great Healthy Place. Healthy living and social interaction are embraced and encouraged among restaurants, retailers and businesses. More than a dozen restaurants and grocers provide an eclectic assortment of authentic foods from around the world, celebrating the Indian, Mexican, Italian, Hispanic, Haitian/Caribbean cultures, as well as craft beers and wine. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, organic, vegetarian, and gluten free options are available. Celebration Park at the southwest corner of Bayshore Drive and Becca Avenue is one of the first food truck parks of its kind, featuring eight permanent food truck stalls, open plaza style seating, and a waterfront tiki bar overlooking Haldeman Creek. The venue is a highly successful community gathering place for special events, live music, arts, and an assortment of culinary delights. 

Other retailers along the corridor provide healthy activities for residents and visitors. Three60 Market provides kayak, paddle board, jet ski and boat rental via Haldeman Creek with access to the Gulf of Mexico. Hot Yoga Naples provides classes and programs focused on wellness. Naples Outfitters provides kayak purchase and rental options. The plans and vision for Bayshore Drive to be an equitable and healthy living space have been realized as residents move to the corridor and businesses continue to locate and expand providing more diverse and health-conscious options. 

Bayshore Drive provides a variety of opportunities for civic engagement while fostering community identity and empowerment. 

Through Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), local law and code enforcement formed partnerships with residents. The initiative resulted in empowering the community to report illicit activity and to collaborate on beautification improvements that have come to fruition. 

The Bayshore logo and theme of “Creativity in Bloom” branded the community as a destination for local artists and entrepreneurs to live and work in the district. The community has embraced its identity as a cultural arts district. Bayshore Drive has been recognized by Gulfshore Life Magazine as “Southwest Florida’s Coolest New district.” The 2021 adoption of Bayshore Gateway Triangle CRA Public Art Pilot Plan provides guiding principles, goals, and program management strategies for public art projects. The identity is evident through various installations provided by local artisans, and businesses such as “Things I Like,” offering contemporary arts and custom jewelry.

Through public, private and cooperative efforts, Bayshore Drive has elevated opportunities for enhanced experiences and interactions, empowering the community with a strong sense of place and identity.

Naples Botanical Garden (NBG) exemplifies best practices in environmental stewardship and sustainability. The 170-acre site features tropical gardens, natural habitat restoration, and a locally sourced food garden. The grounds are a model for sustainability, with low impact design stormwater solutions like rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable surface and gravel parking lots.  A recipient of the American Public Gardens Association’s prestigious Award for Garden Excellence, NBG welcomes over 220,000 visitors annually with the mission of connecting people with nature through display, action, education, conservation, and science.

The Everglades Wetland Research Park, a research and teaching program of Florida Gulf Coast University, is located on the campus of NBG and provides community events like the 2022 Moonlight on the Marsh Distinguished Lecture Series.

Shade trees lining Bayshore Drive help reduce the urban heat island effect. To address increased parking demand, a new public parking lot features 37 parking spaces, 2 rideshare pull-offs, and low impact stormwater design, plus space for one electric car charging station. 

Businesses along the corridor also incorporate sustainable and resilient design methods. Celebration Park incorporates permeable pavers, native vegetation, passive cooling technologies, and mangrove preservation. Guidepost Montessori School is sustainably designed with a focus on nurturing the physical, social and emotional well-being of preschool children and is currently expanding. All these aspects along the Bayshore Drive corridor help contribute to the greatest accomplishment we could all hope to achieve as planners and as visionaries for a Great Healthy Place, which is to instill the principles of healthy living, social engagement, and a sustainable environment in the next generation.