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Concerns swell over St. Pete Yacht Club redevelopment

Mark Parker



The St. Petersburg Yacht Club was founded in 1909, and its original facility opened at 11 Central Avenue in 1917. Photo: LinkedIn.

St. Petersburg Yacht Club officials are attempting to quell member concerns regarding the waterfront landmark’s impending demolition and future uses, less than two months after announcing a tentative redevelopment date.

The Catalyst obtained an email Commodore Scott Boyle sent to members Tuesday that addressed a petition circulating around the clubhouse in recent days. He said it contains inaccurate information regarding plans to rebuild the facility at 11 Central Avenue – first opened in 1917 – and a marina project.

In early March, club leaders announced plans to build anew in fiscal year 2028-29, as time has caught up to the aging facility. Boyle wrote Tuesday that a modern and efficient building would honor the club’s “rich sailing history” and provide a place that members “will be proud to call home.”

“The decision to build a new facility has nothing to do with jeopardizing or minimizing the club’s sailing history,” Boyle wrote. “The master plan assures we will maintain that history, and we will remain a premier sailing club well into the future.”

The Yacht Club has started building a new event pier with a 475-foot floating dock. Club spokesperson Joe DiVito said, in an earlier interview, that the existing pier was over 50 years old and becoming a “real problem.” He said the new pier would better accommodate regattas and other events.

In his email, Boyle called marina reconstruction a “huge endeavor” with several moving parts.

“Unfortunately, we relied on inaccurate information regarding the length of time required to obtain city and county permits,” he added. “This led to the unfortunate decision to vacate the marina of vessels months before it was necessary.”

Ongoing dock construction at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Photo: Chris Fraser, Facebook.

Boyle said club leadership assembled a “very capable” dock project management team to oversee the project. He noted that the group meets weekly with contractors and engineers to ensure marina reconstruction concludes in the fall.

The Yacht Club was founded in 1909 and now offers two clubhouses, three marinas, full-service catering, a sailboat fleet and myriad events. The facility on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront opened in 1917.

The building underwent a substantial remodel in 1989. However, its floor elevation is six feet below current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards, and the historic site is no stranger to storms.

Club archives state that the “Great Hurricane of October 1921” caused extensive flooding. Officials opened an expanded facility in December 1922.

Boyle noted that the club began updating its “Long Range Plan” in 2021. Over 50% of members participated in a corresponding survey and requested extensive improvements that leadership determined were cost-prohibitive.

Stakeholders also expressed the need for a new elevator, roof and pool deck, an updated kitchen and electrical repairs. However, a remodeled club would still not comply with FEMA regulations.

In a condensed recap of “how we got to this place,” Boyle said noncompliance would limit improvements to 50% of the facility’s appraised value. That would necessitate multiple construction phases and “club closures over a period of years.”

“There is no practical way to raise the building elevation as, again, it would require significant modifications to meet members’ demands, which rival the cost of a new structure,” Boyle wrote.

The St. Petersburg Yacht Club site at 11 Central Avenue. Screengrab, Pinellas County property records.

He added that a complete rebuild is the only viable option to “provide a flood-resistant state-of-the-art facility with adequate parking providing the features desired by our members.” Boyle then noted that the Yacht Club’s governing board has the authority to make those decisions.

Global engineering firm Skanska will lead the master planning phase and prepare conceptual designs to share with city and club officials. Construction models recently provided two building options that include 48,500 square feet of airconditioned space and a pool.

The Yacht Club’s leadership must still decide whether to build a new parking garage. Boyle said he hopes to provide initial conceptual drawings at an informational session this summer.

However, he also addressed concerns regarding banquet facilities. Boyle said there is “no truth” to allegations that the plan calls for a design better suited to host weddings and “revenue-driven events.”

Boyle said the Yacht Club, as a 501c (7) organization, can only derive 15% of revenues from nonmember sources. “We come close to that limit every year as it is,” he wrote.

“While banquet revenue does help subsidize member costs, the Master Plan is wholly unrelated to increasing funding from banquets,” Boyle added. “My hope is that this brings our members up to date on where we stand … and has addressed many of the questions you may have.

“It’s important to deal with the facts.”


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  1. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    May 7, 2024at3:59 pm

    I attended a cruising club lunch 3 months ago. Commodore Boyle was introduced and when he got to the podium the first words he spoke: “Don’t ask me about the marina”.

  2. Avatar


    May 1, 2024at4:14 pm

    The glory days of yacht racing are over, it’s just a big expensive dinner club. Big elephant in the room, what do you do with 2400+ members (possible 3500 individuals) during a 2 year build, and based on the marina it could be 3 years. No one is counting these costs. SPYC will become history in bankruptcy facing $55M+ costs.

  3. Avatar


    May 1, 2024at8:15 am

    ha! – the 1% bickering over their “spoils”

  4. Avatar

    D. Artzibushev

    May 1, 2024at5:53 am

    The club could have the FEMA regulations and the 50% rule waived by officially designated the building as historic. Just something to consider.

  5. Avatar

    Scott Simmons

    April 30, 2024at11:33 pm

    I hope the rebuild will be handled better than the new dock was handled. I am concerned about the cost as a nearly 25 year member long gone to North Carolina and now Mexico. Knowing Joe DiVito for those 25 years, I trust his judgment. Joe, I am on FB and living the good life in San Miguel de Allende. Look me up old friend.

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