The Most Anticipated New Developments in Southwest Florida

In 2016, the vision for the Gulfshore Playhouse was initiated when philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker offered a $10 million matching gift challenge that was met in 2019. In April 2021, they initiated a second $10 million matching gift challenge that was achieved in less than two months. Over the past six years, the fundraising campaign has accumulated $57.5 million with the latest fundraising event held on March 7, 2022, raising a record-breaking $2.5 million. Patty Baker, Broadway Producer & Tony Award winner, and Jay Baker, Co-Founder of Kohl’s, have been instrumental to the project since Gulfshore Playhouse CEO, Kristen Coury, approached them about becoming the facility’s “named donors” in 2015. Subsequently, the Baker Theatre and Education Center was named.

Situated in the Naples Design District, on the corner of 1st Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road, construction of the $60 million campus broke ground in December 2021 and is expected to be open to the public in the fall of 2023. The project is being designed by world renowned architectural firms, H3 and Arquitectonica. The theatre and education center will offer 40,000 square feet of space featuring a 350-seat Mainstage Theatre, a 125-seat Studio Theatre, an event hall, a rooftop terrace, and an expansive grand lobby with a cafe, bar and lounge. In addition, there will be an education wing that will serve both youths and adults with musical theater and acting programs in classrooms and rehearsal spaces.

Last month Gulfshore Playhouse announced that they had been admitted as the 77th member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the largest association of professional theaters in the United States. Membership not only signifies the highest level of theater quality, but also grants the Gulfshore Playhouse access to the nations’ top actors, directors and designers. There are only four theaters in Florida who are members of LORT, further building the excitement around this project.

The plethora of new development in the Naples Design District has incited concerns over lack of parking. As a result, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will be developing a three-story, four-level garage with 360 parking spaces at the corner of 1st Avenue South and 12th Street South. In June 2021, the Naples City Council approved the project which is expected to begin in Fall 2022, and be completed in time for the opening of the Gulfshore Playhouse Cultural Campus.

Michael Joanen & Samantha Strauss Joanen, Gulfline Properties

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