What is now the Coquina Sands subdivision was the northernmost section of the original plat of the town of Naples, filed in Lee County, Florida in 1887. It was platted following the same grid system of streets that still exist in Old Naples. The first road from Fort Myers angled across The Moorings, Coquina Sands, and the Beach Club golf course bringing travelers over a rough and sandy trace to the small collection of buildings that nestled around the pier. When building my home in 1987, crushed beach shell was uncovered under the soil and the next-door neighbor, Lorenzo Walker, explained that it was because the lot was the location of the “the old road to Bonita”. Although this route was abandoned following the construction of the Tamiami (Tampa-Miami)Trail in the 1920s, its route can still be seen in aerial photographs taken prior to modern development.
In 1946, the title to the northern portion of the Town of Naples passed to the Naples Company. Its holdings included The Naples Hotel, the community’s centerpiece on 12th Avenue South since 1889, and the Naples Golf and Beach Club that had been established in the Fall of 1930 by Allen Joslin of Cincinnati. The golf course had come first, replacing a crude course along Fifth Avenue South that had served the dual purpose of a landing field for the few airplanes that visited Naples. A clubhouse serving both golfers and bathers followed two years later but offered no quarters for lodging.
The Naples Beach Hotel had it’s origins when the golf and beach club was combined with a beach apartment building that was built in June 1948. The apartments, which remain today as the hotel’s main wing, were opened to lodgers a year later, with bar and restaurant services being provided at the Beach Club next door. The apartment complex was the first one allowed on the Naples Beach. In the process of approving it, the City Council established a line at Golf drive South where only single-family residences would be allowed on the beach. This decision set in place the pattern of future development.
The plat of unit 1 of Coquina Sands was approved by the City Council in April 1954. W. Robert Wilson, engineer and surveyor, laid out the development, replacing the original grid plat with one of wide boulevards that curved gracefully. The streets names followed the theme of the subdivision’s name, Coquina Sands, a reference to the tiny mollusks that bury themselves in the sand at the gulf’s edge. Streets were named for shells and flowers. The plat of Unit 2 was approved by City Council on October 1, 1957 and included the dredging of the natural tidal bay.
Lowdermilk Park, named for Naples first City manager, Fred Lowdermilk, is the City’s only beach front park and was given by the developer, The Naples Company, in lieu of the access points which the original plat had shown on every block (similar to those found south of the subdivision). Benefactor Lester Norris donated a pavilion for the Park and grills and picnic tables were added.
In the early 1960’s, after the development of The Moorings, several streets in Coquina Sands were renamed. Coquina Boulevard’s name was changed to Gulf Shore Boulevard; Jasmine Road became Crayton Road; Hibiscus Road was changed to Murex Drive.
Today Coquina Sands consists of approximately 230 single family residences and 660 multi-family units. The subdivision also includes the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club with over 300 hotel rooms, an 18 hole golf course, a 6 court tennis facility, a spa, meeting facilities and three public restaurants. Lowdermilk Park offers beach access overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with casual dining, restrooms, gazebos, volleyball courts, tot lots and free parking for residents with a beach sticker. Charleston Square has the popular “First Watch” restaurant, a Pharmacy and other retail shops and offices. We have it all!
Coquina Sands is a unique and wonderful neighborhood. Shhh……
Compiled by Monica Cameron, former President, CSA