The new Poinciana Cottages are modern and luxurious, but there’s a lot of history lurking under the surface.

Just a few years ago, two old cottages sat on the land along Sixth Street South in Old Naples, where two sisters had inherited the property from their father, George Rogers.

Rogers was well known in the city. He was one of the original members of the Naples Art Association. He also helped bring art programs into Collier County Public Schools.

“When they moved here, most of this was a swamp,” said Mary Catherine White of White House Luxury Real Estate. “George Rogers got all those poinciana trees planted along Sixth Street.”

The sisters wanted to preserve their father’s art studio and the more than 2,000 paintings in it. But the property was too expensive to turn into the park they dreamed of.

“My husband, Larry, had been talking to them for eight years,” Mary Catherine White said about how her husband saw big potential in the land for a long time. “There were two older houses here that were in very bad shape.”

The Whites met designer Kristen Williams, who also saw the potential, bought the land and found a way to preserve history while building something new. Williams had the art studio and paintings moved to the Collier County Museum.

“We wanted to honor him and what he has done for the community, so we restored the cottage and had it moved and it resides there in perpetuity,” Williams said. “And we also established art scholarships in his name.”

She then had the two small homes torn down, the property split from two lots into three, and created three unique homes that she called Poinciana Cottages, named after all the orange blooming trees along the street.

While the homes look similar on the outside with their white cottage style, they are quite different on the inside. The first home, known as the south cottage, is contemporary. The center cottage is done in a more industrial style and the third, known as the north cottage, is created with more of a cottage appearance.

The north cottage has already sold, but the first two are for sale. This week, the contemporary home was unveiled to the public. The middle cottage will be ready in about six weeks.

The south cottage has two floors, plus a small loft above a narrow spiral staircase. It has higher ceilings and a bright, white interior with splashes of color. The middle three-story house has brick and steel as the motif. There’s even brick in the glass elevator shaft.

“I see someone from London or New York or Boston flying in and staying here,” White said.

“I love the brick and iron and stone and to do our version of an urban loft in downtown Naples,” Williams added.

All of the homes have a pool and spa in a cozy area between the house and garage that is made private with lots of tall greenery. Each cottage also has a two-car garage.

Williams said she knew this was the perfect location for her special project.

“It’s because of the proximity to  Fifth Avenue,” Williams began. “When people come to Naples, they want to come to Fifth Avenue. This is the closest thing we could ever get to downtown living in Naples.”

Williams, owner of Kristen Williams Designer Developer, and her team, including designer Brandi Wollington, created everything from architecture to design.

“Brandi and I had the idea to create a deliberately different look to each property,” Williams described. “So one is traditional, one is urban industrial and one has a cottagey feel to it. On the outside we really wanted, from the neighborhood’s perspective, some continuity for all three.”

During the grand reveal of the south home, Williams and Wollington spoke about how much they liked the finished product.

“I love that we decided that blue and white was very clean and crisp and looks very good in Naples,” Williams said.

“I like the surprising orange in the rooms,” Wollington added.

Williams pointed to a light fixture in the family room that looks like a sculpture of a tree.

“It was done by Ed Koehler, a local artist,” she said. “We like to use local artists in all our projects.”

The cottages were built by Waterside Builders.

“What makes this house unique is it’s a Kristen Williams house and the location,” said project manager, David Dickerson. “The middle one has a unique design vision. It is a completely different approach and a departure from the other homes.”

Steven Jalled, director of residential design for MHK Architecture & Planning, said it wasn’t always easy to make the vision for these homes happen.

“The challenge on these lots is they are very, very narrow,” he began. How do you make a 24-foot-wide house seem larger than it is? One way is with lots of glass and privacy landscaping.”

Since the south home was on the smallest lot, Jalled used huge windows in the kitchen and high sliding glass doors in the back of the home so the whole house, front to back, was full of light. Also, since the south home is only two floors, there are higher ceilings than in the other houses that have three floors. The other two homes are 27 feet wide, but also have lots of light to make them appear larger.

White said it took three years to get through all the permitting and design and get the three homes built. She stressed that it’s not just the house and design that make Poinciana Cottages special.

“Location, location, location,” White said. “It’s tried and true. You can live here and never get your car out. You can walk to the beach, restaurants and shops. You can walk everywhere. It is an ideal space to come and go.”

The south cottage has three bedrooms, plus a den and loft and three-and-a-half bathrooms. It encompasses 2,625 square feet under air and is selling for $3.9 million.

The middle cottage has four bedrooms and a bonus room, four-and-a-half baths with 3,338 square feet and is selling for $4.9 million.

The north cottage has four bedrooms and a bonus room, five-and-a-half bathrooms with 3,110 square feet and is already sold.

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