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Naples Daily News (Florida)


Hertz's plan to coat the home of the Florida Everblades with bright yellow paint doesn't sit well with many Estero residents, including the town's mayor.

The rental car giant announced its plan for a new design on the outside of the arena Wednesday to match its iconic vibrant yellow and black colors as part of its deal to take over the naming rights for what long has been known as Germain Arena in Estero.

Readers of The News-Press and Naples Daily News Facebook pages had plenty of strong opinions about the plan for the hockey arena — from comparing the chosen yellow to Heinz mustard to calling the proposal an eyesore.

One commenter said sarcastically: "That color Hertz my eyes."

Estero Mayor Jim Boesch didn't hold back on his personal feelings either. In a phone interview, he said the yellow definitely doesn't fit the town's preferred warmer Mediterranean or softer Old Florida styles.

"The bottom line is that color doesn't belong in Estero. That would be my position. It's too bold," he said.

Hertz is proud of its plan

Despite the criticism, Hertz is driving ahead with its plan.

In a company statement, Hertz said: "We're proud of the proposed exterior building design because it reflects our iconic Hertz brand and complements our world headquarters in Estero and Southwest Florida. We want to share that pride with the community, those who travel to the area and everyone who attends events at Hertz Arena."

The design will be discussed publicly for the first time at an Estero Design Review Board meeting Wednesday. A vote is not expected for at least another month, though.

Hertz hopes to win approval at the Design Review Board's next meeting Oct. 10.

"We're hopeful this design and paint scheme will be approved and we'll work closely with the Village of Estero to ensure that it meets their standards and requirements," Hertz said in its statement.

Mayor hopes for a compromise

Boesch is hoping for a compromise.

"If they are not willing to compromise, then I don't know what we will do, but certainly we are not going to allow that kind of yellow facing thousands of residents every day," he said.

The Village Council likely won't have a say in the matter, though.

Because it's only a change in the paint color, that's a decision that usually is made solely by the Design Review Board. Mayor Boesch said he hopes the board will make the right decision for Estero.

There are no other buildings in the town that have such a glaring yellow, he said — and he wants to keep it that way.

Color would 'set a new standard'

"It would set a new standard for Estero, and I don't believe the residents would accept that," Boesch said.

The only way the council would get involved in the color choice is if the Design Review Board's decision is appealed. Hertz could file an appeal if the paint color is denied, for example, or an unhappy neighbor could appeal if it's approved.

There's a cost — $1,000 — to file an appeal, and not just anyone could file one.

"You have to prove that you were aggrieved by the decision," said Mary Gibbs, Estero's director of community development. "It couldn't be, 'I just don't like it.' You would have to be like, 'I'm living next door to it and I'm blinded by it. I'm living under the shadow of that thing.' "

Appeals have been few and far between in Estero, and they can take months to resolve, she said.

Board holds off on comment

It's difficult to gauge the feelings of the Design Review Board. Many of the board's members said they preferred not to comment about the color choice ahead of the public meeting.

"It's definitely beneficial that Hertz is stepping up to be a sponsor. It's certainly good for the town to have a national sponsor like that. It can only help the arena," board member Michael Sheeley said.

Deciding on the color choice will take more thought, Sheeley said.

"The design and architecture is a different story we are going to have to evaluate. That's all," he said.

A day after Hertz announced its plans, Design Review board member Thomas Barber said he hadn't seen the proposal so he didn't know any of the details.

"I don't really have a comment on it at this point," he said.

Color change controversial before

This won't be the first time the Estero arena's color scheme has come before the village's Design Review Board.

In May 2017, representatives for the Germain Arena presented plans to repaint the arena in shades of blue, white and grey that didn't go over well the first time.

The initial plans, which included a blue stripe around the middle of the building, didn't match Estero's design standards, board members said at the time.

Arena representatives ended up revising the design, which the board approved at another meeting later in the same month.

"I think the building that got repainted after we had a talk with Germain Arena looked fantastic," said Joe McHarris, the former chairman of Estero's Design Review Board.

McHarris also owns Bonita Springs-based McHarris Planning & Design.

While McHarris no longer serves on the volunteer village board, he said he hopes Estero doesn't allow the entire arena to be painted yellow, as Hertz has proposed.

Bright yellow an 'attention getter'

The bright yellow shown in renderings is an "attention getter" and "great advertising" for Hertz, but is "a little silly," McHarris said.

"I think if they tone down the yellow and do it appropriately, it can be done tastefully," he said.

Al O'Donnell, another former member of the Estero board and president of Estero-based O'Donnell Landscapes, said he thinks there's a compromise that can make the village and Hertz happy.

"I think there's a way for the Hertz people to get their corporate identity, whether it be signage or accents, without painting the whole building yellow," he said.

This isn't the first time Hertz has proposed something that doesn't fit with Estero's usual mold.

Rather than having a Mediterranean look, Hertz's headquarters is modern, sleek and translucent with a mass of windows, rather than a mass of concrete. Estero's Community Planning Panel gave it a stamp of approval in November 2013, though it's like no other building in town, before the village was incorporated. That paved the way for Lee County to approve the project administratively, with a sign-off by staff and without another public hearing.

"If another Hertz comes down here, we will give them the same accommodation," the Estero panel's chairman, Jack Lienesch, said at the time.

Council members: mixed feelings

Flash forward. Estero's council members have mixed feelings about Hertz's plans for a yellow arena today. Some, like the mayor, are clearly against it.

"The color, I think, doesn't fit with the Estero palette that we have here," said Councilman Jon McLain.

McLain said he trusts the judgment of the village's Design Review Board. "I'm sure they'll work with Hertz to tone that down," he said.

While most buildings in Estero feature the village's preferred Mediterranean-style architecture, Councilman Jim Wilson said he recognizes the arena wasn't built with that look in mind.

"It's a sports arena," he said. "It's a question of whether it's appropriate for a sports arena building to be painted in a bright color."

Councilwoman Katy Errington said she's not opposed to the color scheme. She recognizes Hertz is "trying to be a good business partner in Estero," she said.

"That arena brings so many activities into this area," Errington said. "I don't want to get in a squabble over the paint color. Whether we like it or not, it is their color."

It helps that the arena is located off Interstate 75, she said.

"Since it's not right in the heart of Estero, I don't have a problem with it," Errington said. "If it was their headquarters, I would have a problem."

Residents have different views

Estero resident J.J. Basso, who lives in The Club at Grandezza, a gated community to the east of Germain Arena off Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, said he doesn't have a problem with Hertz's choice of yellow either.

"They're paying a lot of money for it," he said of the naming rights and upgrades.

"It's not that they're painting it in chartreuse or pink or black."

Basso, who is also president of Grandezza's homeowners association, said homes in his community don't overlook the arena so it's not a big concern.

"It's a long way to look back there," he said.

In an email, Suzi Bloemker, who lives in the Naples area, said before anyone paints the arena yellow, they should spend money to improve the inside. When she and her husband went to see ventriloquist Jeff Dunham perform at the arena a few months ago they sat in floor seats that were dirty, worn and uncomfortable, she said.

"It's hard to enjoy a show when you have to move around in your seat constantly," she said. "The food areas look like something at a carnival. The whole place could use a makeover."

While Hertz plans changes to the inside of the arena, those changes are still on the drawing board.

They won't be part of the discussions at the upcoming Design Review Board meeting.

Public information meeting

About: Hertz repainting Germain Arena

Who: Estero Design Review Board

When: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: 9401 Corkscrew Palms Circle

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September 23, 2018


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