Naples Daily News – Bonita Card Room Project

Naples Daily News – Bonita Card Room Project

March 1, 2019

“A new poker room and restaurant is envisioned to replace the 60 year old grey hound racing track at the Naples-Ft Myers Greyhound Track.” -Thaddeus Mast NDN

Architect renderings show that the four-story dog track in Bonita Springs could be replaced with a sleek new poker room and restaurant — if the City Council approves. Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track owners have proposed a one-story building that would sit near the corner of Bonita Beach Road and Race Track Road, across from an existing RaceTrac gas station. A full restaurant and poker room would fill much of the space, renderings show. Horse race betting via television simulcasting would complete the 30,000-square-foot facility, according to documents submitted to the city. “We will continue offering poker and simulcasting in a more modern building that’s easier for the customer to reach,” Izzy Havenick, vice president for government relations at the track, has said.

The design plans have to gain city approval before construction at the track can begin. A neighborhood meeting, Bonita Springs Zoning Board suggestions and final City Council approval are required. The plan also will go before DPZ, a design group hired by the city to create a vision study for the Bonita Beach Road corridor. “We’re working with the city and DPZ to make sure the new building is in the center of the (Bonita Beach Road Vision Study),” Havenick said. Havenick said he hopes the building can be finished by the 2020 racing season. The Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track was built in the 1950s, and its popularity has faded since then. So has the state’s support for greyhound racing. In 2018 more than 69 percent of Floridians voted to end greyhound racing by 2020. That means the sport will be gone from Bonita Springs. Most of the space in the current building and the track will go unused in 2020. Only a fraction of the existing 250,000-square-foot facility is used for card games and dining as of today. Remote betting via televisions simulcast is available to gamblers.

Surrounding land to remain open

The owners said they have no plans at present for the remaining land at the site, Havenick said. They expect to remove the old track, he said. It would add acres of empty land to an already large, grassy lot. Havenick gave no timeline on when the current track might be demolished while the site’s owners focus on building the new facility. -NDN


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