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Christina, Kirk and Gracie McFee open up for business this week with Kirk's Coney Island Hot Dogs on Bald Eagle Drive on the way to Olde Marco. / Steve Stefanides/Sun Times
Seawall replacements are common as the old ones reach the end of their projected lifespans.
Kendall Bridge sewer pipe replacement is in the cards.
Keller Williams will soon call this location home.
A Panorama home goes up on San Marco Road.
Swallow Avenue storm sewers go in near Cape Marco.

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No matter where you venture around Marco today, the area is abuzz with construction and building. Whether it’s new homes, water lines, bridges, storm sewer work or renovating older structures … the island is hopping.

Kirk’s Coney Island Hot Dogs

After a complete renovation of the former home of Gino’s Old Marco Trattoria at 1095 Bald Eagle Drive, hot dogs will now displace pizza and pasta when Kirk McFee and his wife Christina open Coney Island Dogs this week in the Old Marco section of the island.

Both Kirk, his wife and little daughter Grace have been busily working on opening their quaint eatery next to the Island Bike Shop on Bald Eagle.

Kirk himself is a musician, which accounts for the installation of a small stage for local entertainers to ply customers with melodies as they enjoy a cold beverage and a sandwich of their choice.

Reviews

The Marco Island Civic Association, which reviews all building permits on Marco for compliance with the Deltona deed restrictions, reported that reviews through June showed more than twice the average activity from 2006 to 2013, and was trending toward 2005 numbers, according to Dick Adams, president.

Smokehouse Bay Bridge

One of the most anticipated projects of the last several years has begun with the relocation of utilities such as electric, cable and phone being moved to temporary poles to provide for the construction which will take them off of the old Smokehouse Bay bridge structure as it is demolished as part of that $8 million project.

The water and wastewater utility is doing a lateral bore to place a 20-inch diameter water line 70 feet under the channel bottom which runs below the bridge. There will also be two additional lines relocated as part of that project.

TECO (the natural gas supplier) will also be running their its piping 60 feet below the channel under the bridge to service its customers’ needs at the south end of the island.

Starbucks Coffee

Once all the permitting is done, Starbucks Coffee will erect a new drive-through coffee shop which will also include inside and outside seating. It will be between the Wells Fargo Bank and the Radio Shack store on North Collier. The new facility will be open by April.

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Chamber view

“Last year businesses experienced a great season,” said Jackie Koon, president of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. “That experience has carried over into the off-season for most of our members which has been a positive for everyone.”

Swallow Avenue

Phase II of a multi-year Swallow Avenue storm sewer project is well underway. It involves the continuation of a project begun last year with an improved outfall near Florentine Gardens. The new piping will begin west of Huron Court and proceed toward the intersection of Panama Court to relieve flooding in that area. Phase III of the project will go from Huron to Seagrape Drive when funding is received from South Florida Water Management District, according to Public Works Director Tim Pinter.

Damaged Kendall Bridge utility pipes

The city’s water utility department will be replacing a damaged force main waste water pipe which runs across the bridge on Kendall over the Castaways Waterway.

It appears the older pipe was struck by a construction barge sometime during the past several months, damaging the pipe and requiring its replacement to avert a serious hazardous material spill into the waterway.

At the same time, contractors will repair some bent hangers for two other water pipes hanging in the same area which are also in need of repair.

Keller Williams new office

The Keller Williams real estate brokerage firm on the island is completely refurbishing the building at 828 Bald Eagle. The newly renovated structure will provide the KW team with approximately 7,800 square feet of office and meeting space all in one facility.

The building was previously home to the popular Bargain Basket, and housed the offices of Resort Property Management Services. Both have since relocated to alternate locations on Bald Eagle

Real estate

Real estate sales all over Southwest Florida, including Marco, are on the rebound once again.

Homes are springing up all over the island, some as spec homes, some for owners and a number of new model homes. Compared to the days of the crippling recession several years ago the activity is overwhelming, according to many of the builders.

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“I believe this is a very sustainable market,” said Bobbi Lansdown of Panorama Homes. Bobbi and her husband Roy own Panorama Homes, which has built homes on Marco for around 30 years.

They have built about 400 homes to date. “Our model home is going up on San Marco Road right now and we are extremely busy with new homes and remodels,” Roy said.

Stan Niemczyk, a Realtor with the “Golf to Gulf Team” on Marco, was also upbeat; “the exciting thing is the influx of the next generation of Marco purchasers, people who are coming here for the first time,” Niemczyk said.

Alex Parker with AP Builders at 527 Bald Eagle is also seeing the change in the marketplace.

“This is the busiest I’ve seen it in the nine years I’ve been here and in business. The activity is over a wide spectrum; I’m busy with major condo renovations, upgrading doors and windows in homes, new kitchens and baths and we’re even building a new home for a customer here on Marco.”

Alan Sandlin of the Sandlin team summed it up by saying it’s a winning market for both buyers and sellers.

“The inventory of distressed properties has finally been reduced substantially, and we have an appreciation of anywhere from 5 to 7 percent on valuations, not the crazy numbers we saw prior,” he said.

Dave Homuth, senior mortgage lender for Mutual of Omaha Bank, was positive about the real estate market.

“We are seeing more of the folks who want to purchase to own and inhabit the home versus the speculators of the past,” Homuth said. “We are seeing a lot of big dollar purchases for cash, but with the rates we can give folks today, they can afford to invest their money and make a fairly decent return on that investment.”

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