NAPLES — The 127-foot-tall crane towering over the construction site of a future Fifth Avenue South complex will be a fixture on the street for the next four months.
Phil McCabe, owner of the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples, said his new $15 million building with suites for the inn, a bank and two retail stores, is on schedule for completion by December.
The 32,000-pound crane rests in an elevator shaft for the new three-story building and will be responsible for erecting the structure’s steel frame. McCabe said the crane could have been shorter and still have gotten the job done, but the tight confines of the construction site and neighboring trees required a larger machine.
"That crane freely turns 360 degrees when they're not using it. They don't lock it. If there are high winds, it has to turn with the winds," he said. "So they had to get above those trees in front of it, and to get it above, pushed it up into another size."
The project has been contained behind fencing on the site since September. The building's anchor tenant will be Chase Bank. Two women's retail shops will occupy the ground floor. McCabe has already finalized a deal with a branch of Chico's FAS Inc. apparel called Boston Proper.
The second and third floors will house 32 hotel suites, and McCabe is so confident that construction will go as planned that he's already started accepting reservations for them next season.
McCabe isn't worried about the crane being an eyesore during high season in the city. He said it's really only visible while driving toward the street and not from street level.
"Pedestrians don't even see it or notice it," he said. "We did actually put some windows in the fencing in front of the site because there's a very big interest in the public in what's going on in there."
Mayor John Sorey said he loves the crane.
"It means that Fifth Avenue is coming back," he said. "I hope to see more construction cranes in the city."
Councilman Bill Barnett said he hasn't heard complaints from residents or visitors about the crane. Councilman Doug Finlay said that while it's not the best-looking structure, he's not as concerned about the crane as he is other city fixtures.
"I guess you can say it looks no worse than the cell tower that is on the north east corner of Fifth Avenue South and Eighth Street South," he said. "At least the crane will be gone in four months."