Petition seeks to keep tennis courts amid redevelopment of historic Naples hotel

There is a petition to keep a treasured place from getting bulldozed in Southwest Florida.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club Off is being redeveloped, and the people who enjoy it want to keep it the way it is.

Christy Boutell has played at the Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center at the club for years.

“There aren’t that many places in the Naples areas in Southwest Florida where you can come on excellent courts and be taught by a pro, and it’s open to the public,” Boutell said.

But the courts could get demolished and relocated as part of The Athens Group’s plan to redevelop the community.

Boutell and other regulars hope a petition will save the courts.

“I live in North Naples, and everyone I know has signed the petition,” Cheryl Roe said

Cheryl Roe hasn’t yet signed but supports the cause and courts.

“I thought it was really sad, and you know, a renovation is always good, but a complete tear down?” Roe said. “And it’s going to disrupt, you know, the animals, the traffic.”

The Athens Group says the new courts will be open to the public when it finishes the redevelopment.

“The specifics of the golf and tennis programs are still being developed and are therefore not yet available,” said Naples City Councilman Paul Perry.

The sale of the property is expected to close in May, and The Athens Group will then close the hotel and likely the golf and tennis courts for the construction of its new five-star resort.

Perry says people unhappy with the plan should have come forward sooner, but players such as Boutell hold out hope the courts will stay.

“I hope that it stays,” Boutell said. “I really do.”

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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