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Artis Naples to receive makeover in $150 million campaign

A new 600-seat theater, bumped-out museum social spaces, a visitors plaza that looks toward the Gulf of Mexico and a terraced, landscaped courtyard are part of a striking master plan Artis—Naples announced Tuesday.

The master plan is the result of discussions with board, staff and the public. Artis—Naples solicited community ideas March 9 with a public forum introducing Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, the New York-based husband-and-wife team who collected their input for the plan.

Its goal is to take Artis—Naples, which turns 30 in 2019, through the next 30 years. It is expected to cost $150 million for all projects, with $50 million raised already, much of it for an endowment component.

More: Consultants, audience help Artis—Naples look ahead for improvements

More: Baker Museum in Collier closed for entire 2017-18 season to assess Irma damage

Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and president of Artis—Naples, said patrons and the board of directors found a common interest in improving the natural components of the multibuilding venue.

“The board pointed this out. We have arts, education and performance all living under this beautiful nature setting, and yet we are not connected to it. You don’t know that the Gulf of Mexico is half a mile away,” van Bergen said.

If the plan goes as hoped, the courtyard between Hayes Hall and the Baker Museum will hold part of the natural component in a stepped, 17-foot rise to a second concert hall, yet to come on the property that holds the Stabile building. Van Bergen emphasized that any situation in which levels rise will have adjacent elevators to accommodate the handicapped.

One of the terraces proposed for the additional spaces could likely be high enough to give visitors a view of the Gulf.

There will be a parking garage but not at this point. The projects of this master plan have had to bow to the influence of an unsolicited partner: Hurricane Irma. Its Category 4 wallop on Sept. 10 infiltrated some of the museum’s walls, and it has been closed ever since.

With that in mind, Weiss/Manfredi created and the board of directors of Artis—Naples  approved a plan that first repairs the museum and adds an impermeable facade. Still,  the museum will probably be closed the rest of 2018 as well, van Bergen acknowledged. The building is sound, she said, but its facade is obviously vulnerable.

The proposed exterior replacing it is a natural stone, van Bergen continued. She added that, with all the plans, placements and materials “are not 100 percent confirmed, but this is the concept the board has endorsed.”

Artis-Naples has heard one of its customers’ most frequent complaints, and had doubled bathroom facilities for women and men. Harriet Heithaus

That concept creates a slightly undulating east wall on the museum, cantilevered over a hurricane-resistant glassed-in first floor. The facade also may have some glassed-in box spaces for informal discussion, “so after you see an exhibition instead of standing in the lobby you can continue the conversation in one of these spaces,” van Bergen explained.

Also part of this project will be an extension of the facade to a new building to be built over the rear parking lot of Artis—Naples. It is expected to contain indoor and outdoor spaces for multipurpose education and performance space, an outdoor garden and an elevated sculpture terrace on its roof.

That will eliminate one parking lot in a venue already pressed for parking. In 2016 it lost the use of the lot next door that surrounds the building holding Wells Fargo banking services. Since then the museum has offered shuttle service from Waterside Shops parking garage and has agreements with a number of other neighbor lots.

There are plans for a 260-space parking garage, van Bergen said, which would bring the total available spaces around Artis—Naples, including the neighboring lots with which it has agreements, to 752. But the garage won’t materialize until the second project, which includes a 600-seat theater at the top level of the terraced garden that will replace the current courtyard.

“Essentially it’s double the size of the Daniels Pavilion (the small auditorium at Artis—Naples); when we look at our programming, so many of our Daniels Pavilion concerts we perform twice. We would welcome the opportunity to have them once,” van Bergen said.

“Then there is also a sort of baby-bear comparison. Because we have in the mix a 150-seat, very flexible, not fixed-chairs space that currently happens at the Stabile (education building) in a formal classroom format that we would like in a more flexible 150 seats,” she explained.

The Stabile building would be razed at that point, as would the smaller Daniels Pavilion. Both would be part of a $75 million component of the long-term plan.

Repair of the museum and the indoor-outdoor building and terrace behind it, as well as consideration of closing of the alley to through traffic, is the initial proposed $25 million component. The only changes there are removing the Figge Conservatory and eliminating the south parking lot.

People are not aware of how much space the Figge Conservatory removes from the courtyard, she said. At its apex, the dome reaches 34 feet into the 84-foot-wide courtyard. Without the glass dome, the courtyard measures about 84 by 140 square feet, a little less than half the size of a football field.

The entire master plan would include two more buildings on each side of the front of Artis—Naples.

There is no timetable for construction yet, but the organization is fundraising and is hoping to have the museum reopen in 2019, van Bergen said.

She saw it as the first step toward the institution’s goal of bringing the outside in. “We want it to be a very clear expression of our commitment to arts and to forge new connections  to the community,” she said.

A number of the structures that are disappearing, beginning with the Figge Conservatory, have names of donors or honorees. Ashley Mirakian, vice president, marketing and patron engagement, said that Artis—Naples takes those gifts seriously, and that they were discussing the changes with all of the people involved.

The Artis—Naples announcement of a new theater adds it to a field with two other organizations that are planning to build: Gulfshore Playhouse, which recently closed on the purchase of property in downtown Naples, and Cultural and Performing Arts Center, which is awaiting the county commissioners’ decision on a proposal for East Naples property that would come to them.

Van Bergen said she was open to working with other organizations on the use of any additional theater space it would build. “I would hope so. I would hope that we have only grown our community partnerships by the time this is realized,” she said.

Restaurant spending: U.S. cities where people go out to eat all the time

Going out to eat is more popular than ever. Americans in the 1950s spent three times as much on groceries as on food away from home. In 2014, for the first time, restaurant spending surpassed grocery spending.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 78 full-service restaurants per 100,000 Americans, and annual restaurant sales amount to $704.18 per person. In some wealthy, tourist-heavy cities, going out to eat is very common, and the concentration of restaurants and money spent at fine dining establishments per capita is more than four times the national average.

More: The 73 Naples restaurants on TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame list

More: U.S. cities where incomes are shrinking the fastest

To determine the cities where people go out to eat all the time, 24/7 Wall Street created an index based on the number of full-service restaurants and full-service restaurant spending per capita across 917 urban areas of at least 10,000 people. To hone in on the fine-dining sector, only full-service restaurants were considered. Full-service restaurants include establishments that generally offer table service with a wait staff, serving food and beverages for consumption on-premises. Limited-service restaurants, which include establishments in which patrons select and pay for items before eating, were not considered.

The array of available dining options may also impact restaurant spending. While nationwide there are about as many full-service restaurants as there are limited-service restaurants — also known as fast food restaurants —  in some wealthy, tourist-heavy cities the ratio of fine-dining to fast-food establishments is greater than three to one. In 47 of the 50 cities with the highest fine-dining restaurant spending per capita, the ratio of full-service to limited-service restaurants is greater than the national value.