Conch Harbor Marina owner Craig Hunt has donated roughly $250,000 worth of palms and other trees to the city of Key West.
Crews with Key West landscaping company Ecoscapes and the local construction firm Mingo and Co. began moving trees on Wednesday and the work will continue through the weekend. All total, 50 palms and other trees will be moved to various city properties along Caroline Street and Lazy Way in the Key West Bight.
"I wanted to replace every tree on Caroline Street that I was removing," Hunt said. "I wanted to keep them in the neighborhood."
Ecoscapes owner Evan Bell estimated the palm trees were worth about $5,000 apiece.
"This is all done to save these trees," Bell said. "You can't put a price on that."
The relocation of the trees marks the beginning of a seven-month project to bring a new West Marine store to Caroline Street.
The owners of West Marine are replacing their current 5,000 square-foot store at 725 Caroline St. with a larger, 13,500 square-foot super store at Conch Harbor on the corner of Caroline and Grinnell streets.
The store is expanding its sales of clothing and other items that are not tied directly to boating, Hunt said.
The new store will serve as an "anchor tenant" for the marina and should bring more people to that side of Caroline Street, Hunt said.
"This will make it more of a mecca for business," he said.
Hunt is also replacing the current drainage system and building retention tanks that will capture more water from Caroline Street, which is known to flood during storms. He is installing tanks that should capture 300 percent more water than required by city building code.
"We want to help fix issues that are facing the neighborhood," said Hunt, who has lived in Key West for 11 years and owned the marina for three years. "We are trying to be a good neighbor."