In the Know: East Naples booms signal excavation for home development - Southern Business Review


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Monday, March 25, 2019

In the Know: East Naples booms signal excavation for home development

Q: For the last several weeks we have heard a single "boom" in the afternoon around 2:30 to 3 p.m.-ish, coming from somewhere east or southeast of our condo which is near the corner of Davis and Santa Barbara boulevards. One of those "booms" was strong enough to shake our condo. Is there some construction/destruction going on where the contractor is using explosives to, say, dig holes for new ponds or for foundations? We've not heard these "booms" at any other time of the day.

— Wil Hirsch, East Naples

A: Afternoon booms heard recently in East Naples are the blasting of bedrock to create lakes and underground utilities for Seychelles, a new Neal Communities housing development being built on Santa Barbara Boulevard. 

“It’s seldom more than what they’d hear with a thunderclap,” said Rory Simons of Florida Energy Services Inc., the company contracted for the blasting project.

This season’s blasts involve the same companies and were extremely similar to the ones heard last spring during the creation of Marquesa Isles nearby on County Barn Road. Controlled blasting of rock is common for the excavation of lakes and construction of underground utilities such as storm sewers, catch basins, water lines and other infrastructure.

► Neal breaks ground on multifamily community on Santa Barbara Blvd.

Site plan surveys for Seychelles show that the blasting work is at least 400 feet from neighboring communities and structures, the closest of which are some condominium units in the Falling Waters community and two single-family homes east of Santa Barbara Boulevard.

The excavation work on about 33 acres along Santa Barbara will create three lakes. Seychelles’ 224-unit carriage homes will be built around the lakes. Neal Communities, a Florida-based home-builder and developer, began clearing the property in February for the 28 two-story buildings.

A 90-day blasting permit granted from Jan. 28 to April 28 allows Florida Energy Services to blast as many as 4,000 holes drilled 5 inches in diameter and as deep as 15 feet. The company may blast 100 holes per day, according to the application for blasting and the use of explosives in Collier County.

Conditions of the permit require continuous seismic monitoring during the blasting project, with seismograph reports analyzed by a seismologist, in this case, Vibration Energy Services Inc. of Tamarac, Florida, records show.

The common blasting agent used is a combination of a commercial fertilizer compound and diesel fuel that is set off by a booster and a blasting cap. The blast basically produces an expanding gas that fractures the layers of lime rock, Simons said.

“If all goes well we may finish the job on Monday,” he said Friday. “We have one or two more days and the job is over and we move on to the next site.”

Florida Energy Services spent no more than a week blasting for utilities and about four weeks of excavation work on a total of 5 to 6 acres of lakes.

“We blasted a total of maybe 3 or 3½ (acres),” Simons said.

They could blast only part of one large lake because it was too close to Falling Waters, even though it is behind a wall on the other side of Santa Barbara. Teams will have to use a backhoe with a pneumatic hammer attachment to finish the excavation work, Simons said.

Area residents were notified in December via memos about the planned blasting work.

“Blasting is a technical, sophisticated, scientific procedure and while the noise and vibrations may be annoying, strict requirements have been imposed on the contractor to insure (sic) that no damage to property will occur,” reads part of a letter sent to residents by Warren Sebastian, president of Vibration Energy Services.

“Approximately 30 seconds to five minutes before the blast, a siren or horn will sound three times to notify people in the immediate area that a blast is about to be detonated. Nearby residents in their homes may hear and feel a low rumble. Windows, dishes and air-conditioning vents may rattle and shake. The vibration felt and heard will only last for a maximum of 2 seconds. After the blast, a siren or horn will give the 'all-clear' signal. Vibration monitoring equipment will be located at the closest structure to monitor all blast vibrations. In addition, Collier County will have an inspector present in order to assure compliance to Collier's blasting ordinance.”

Simons has been performing this type of professional work in Collier County for nearly 40 years. He started excavation projects here in 1981 after doing similar work in Freeport, Bahamas, in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

“To some, we’re a blessing and to some a curse, but we provide a service and get the work done quickly and we don’t damage people’s homes,” Simons said. “I’m 71 years old and I’ve been blasting more than 50 years. I have a strong respect for people’s personal property.”

Extra Space Storage

Extra Space Storage is expected to open as early as this week between the 10-acre Collier Area Transit center on Radio Road and the RaceTrac gas station and convenience store on the northwest corner of Radio and Davis Boulevard in East Naples.

The project at 8471 Davis Blvd. was developed by Bonita Springs resident Bob Morande, who previously owned two self-storage facilities on Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples that he recently sold. Morande, a retired auto dealer from Hartford, Connecticut, also is an aircraft broker and a longtime licensed pilot who started flying when he got out of the U.S. Navy in 1964. 

Morande Enterprises purchased more than 8 acres of vacant commercial land on that corner across from Cedar Hammock Golf & Country Club in September 2007 but sold 3.5 acres to Atlanta-based RaceTrac in December 2015.

“Then after much negotiating with the county, we finally got approval for the self-storage facility, which we are going to brand Extra Space Storage,” Morande said. “I owned the land and brought in two partners, Mark and Sean Rasmus, who have extensive experience in storage facilities.”

The new Extra Space Storage has 763 storage units in a three-story building of nearly 103,000 square feet, the architectural site plan shows. The units range in size from 5-by-5 feet to 10-by-35 feet. The majority of the units are 10-by-10, 5-by-10, 10-by-15, 5-by-5 and 10-by-7.5 feet, plans show.

On Radio Road, the new storage units are across from HeadPinz Entertainment Center, formerly Woodside Lanes.

“We have countless people stopping by to see when we will open,” Morande said last week. “Hopefully, we'll get our CO (certificate of occupancy) next week. Then it will be official.”

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