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St. Pete Yacht Club to be demolished

Mark Parker



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

First opened in 1917, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s downtown facility has served as a waterfront landmark for over a century; however, father time and mother nature have caught up to the historic building.

Brian K. Smith, club president, notified members of the impending demolition and redevelopment project in a letter Tuesday. The decision stems from a “well-qualified” architectural firm’s study and over 20 focus group sessions.

Participants listed their desired improvements for the building at 11 Central Avenue, which officials determined were cost-prohibitive. In addition, the letter states the need for an elevator, roof, tiki and pool deck replacement, electrical repairs and an updated kitchen.

“It became evident that remodeling of the clubhouse to accommodate all of the changes desired by the membership would simply not be practical,” Smith wrote. “But most importantly, we would end up with a remodeled building which would not comply with current FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) standards.”

Smith explained that the building’s floor elevation is six feet below current FEMA regulations, and the waterfront mainstay is no stranger to storms. Club archives state that the “Great Hurricane of October 1921” caused extensive flooding four years after the building opened.

An unnamed hurricane caused significant flooding to the facility in October 1921. Screengrab.

Despite the damage, membership continued increasing, and the organization extended the clubhouse north. The expanded facility formally opened in December 1922.

Just under a century later, Hurricane Ian highlighted the need for more resilient Yacht Club infrastructure.

As rear commodore, Joe DeVito is the organization’s third in command. Officials nominated him to serve as the project’s spokesperson.

He told the Catalyst that club leadership began developing a long-term master plan before Ian hit Southwest Florida in late September 2022 “and devasted several yacht clubs – just like ours.”

“Those clubs were wiped out,” DeVito added. “So, we started looking at planning.”

FEMA regulations mandate a complete replacement if a flood or hurricane causes damage exceeding 50% of the facility’s value. According to the agency, that is $1.5 million.

“And it wasn’t practical to put probably $10 to $15 million into an old building and still be six feet below FEMA limits,” DeVito said.

According to a Master Facilities Planning Committee motion, “major infrastructure components of the clubhouse have reached or are reaching the end of life and required substantial cost.” The Yacht Club will now create another committee to oversee planning for a new downtown facility, in compliance with federal requirements.

DeVito said they would also design the new building according to member feedback. He said they understand the situation and leadership’s hesitation to spend millions of other people’s money on something that “could get destroyed by a hurricane.”

“We’ve been very lucky for 100 years,” DeVito said. “We want to build a new building that solves the deficiencies and gives us what we want. And puts us in good shape for the next 100 years.”

He relayed that club officials “are very conscientious of preserving our history” and plan to keep the same Mediterranean-style design. DeVito also explained that an elevated building would provide desperately needed additional parking space.

The organization’s board of directors unanimously approved the initiative, and construction will begin in five years. In his letter, Smith called it “a critical step for the future of our club, assuring our members are safe and (a) state of the art facility for the next generation.”

The Yacht Club’s grand opening celebration in 1917. Screengrab.

“An important component of the plan is to secure a temporary location to serve our members during the construction period,” he added. “It is also anticipated that the hours of operation of the Pass-A-Grille location will be maximized during this time frame.”

That facility, located at 2301 Pass a Grille Way in St. Pete Beach, closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It also opens later than the downtown location and closes earlier on Friday and Saturday nights.

Smith expects construction to take two years.

He told members that redevelopment funding would come from new initiation fees and a capital contribution charge implemented in January. He also anticipates increasing monthly dues from $50 to $125 at the beginning of fiscal year 2024-25.

The planning committee’s motion states that “the club does not have the funds to undertake a major remodel or rebuild without a substantial assessment, which will burden many members.” The plan is to raise 50% of the estimated cost before construction commences and finance the balance.

The motion also notes that the House and Grounds Committee will complete any maintenance and repairs “found to be reasonable and necessary” to keep the building code compliant and safe and to ensure quality member experiences. Smith called the long-term initiative “an efficient and risk-assessed endeavor.”

“Our most important goal is to be open and communicative throughout the duration of this project,” he concluded.








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  1. Avatar

    David Grundfor

    June 1, 2023at6:08 pm

    Sounds like a big mess and more disturbingly that more of the old Saint Petersburg will be destroyed in favor of something that looks brand new and cheap.This building was built over a hundred years ago it should be Restored not torn down.The city risk losing it’s Identity if this kind of thing keeps going on too long I think we’re reaching a point at which we cannot do this kind of thing anymore.

  2. Avatar

    Jamie Thomas

    June 1, 2023at7:25 pm

    This makes me so sad. I worked there in a band during the early to mid 80s and it played a prominent roll for me not only as a place of employment but the fun we took part in and created for its members. Its demolition will leave a hole in my heart.

  3. Avatar

    Doug Erwin

    June 1, 2023at9:08 pm

    Time to move on and build a building that makes sense. I’ve been there numerous times over the years. It is wonky old and outdated. To keep it like it is even for historical sense just does not work. Can’t wait to see the new and improved building that will serve the members and others for many years to come. To see the possibilities look what was accomplished in other cities that have taken a major undertaking like this. And then compare that to others that do not move on and do what should be done to move their club into the next 100 years.

  4. Avatar

    David B

    June 2, 2023at5:52 am

    It’s sad to see St. Pete lose another historical building. But it sounds like they’ve done a thorough analysis.

  5. Avatar

    Carl R Lavender

    June 2, 2023at7:28 am

    The St Pete Yacht Club is a monument to a bygone era when private access and association was the norm for a select group of people who saw the world as their own. It being demolished is also a symbol of the more than necessary time in our society for all people to have the same access to the same opportunities without any hindrances or prejudice. I recall walking through the Club passing the corridor with the photographs of Admirals. Interesting to say the least. I was on another occasion given the dinner plate by a guest who thought I was the waiter. I was also a guest. Still another time I was a given a valet ticket by a guest who thought I was a parking valet. I was a guest also. The Yacht Club is an museum now. I’m curious… what was its role in developing the City of St Petersburg?

  6. Avatar

    Mary Henter

    June 2, 2023at7:53 am

    This is a disgraced. The members should be allowed to vote on this. As a member, I am against this. The thing about FEMA is wrong and a way to fool members into thinking it is fact
    If it were true, over half of DT would have to be torn down and rebuilt. They are grandfathered in. Plus it’s a joke having a FEMA appraisal and not one by a certified appraiser. The yacht club should get rated as Historical do they can’t tear down

  7. Avatar

    J R Riddick

    June 2, 2023at8:03 am

    This is an historic building…. The only reason why they want to demolish it is so they can build yet another damn condo! Just sad… just destroying the City’s history!

  8. Avatar


    June 2, 2023at8:14 am

    I wonder how many members will choose to cancel their memberships when they receive their assessment for the new building?

  9. Avatar

    Rick Moseley

    June 2, 2023at8:33 am

    AS a member of the club for years now and attending several of the focus meetings I think this is a good long tr=erm decision.

    I believe that the board will present a improvement to the water front that will serve the members and be a plus to the city .

  10. Avatar

    Danielle Terry

    June 2, 2023at8:50 am

    Save st pete …this sickens me when will they stop.

  11. Avatar

    Fred Harvey

    June 2, 2023at9:06 am

    They will be spending just as much on the new structure with CHEAP MATERIALS!!!! Goodbye old St Petersburg Goodbye

  12. Avatar

    Kenneth Sim

    June 2, 2023at10:12 am

    It should have been taken down 10 years ago, I’ve been in the Building many times and as it is not up to code its time to do so. Keeping it in a Mediterranean style will make it seem like the way it has always been, and will continue to be a jewel in Downtown St. Pete…

  13. Avatar

    Mark Davidson

    June 2, 2023at12:00 pm

    They should keep the front of the building and replace or rebuild the back to keep st Pete looking original please give this a try keep St Pete looking original long time resident. Mark Davidson and Family 😃😃😃

  14. Avatar

    Brandon Alan

    June 2, 2023at12:04 pm

    Doesn’t make sense. As a former employee in middle BOH management there, the club isn’t bad. It’s old yes, it’s outdated yes, but it’s not trash. It’s still a social club of old st Pete money. That’s why they want to revamp. They want that new st Pete money. They want to get younger. If you want to see money move, it’s definitely at the yacht club. Plus it’s in a nice spot. It’s on a corner, out of the way. They have a garage with valet. You have to be a member to be there, so it’s all inclusive. It’s just another example of St Pete selling out and loosing our identity

  15. Avatar

    Penny Lane

    June 2, 2023at2:34 pm

    Carl, a new building will not change any thinking of the white stronghold. They are oblivious and will deny any privilege of the majority.

  16. Avatar

    Greg Newman

    June 2, 2023at2:55 pm

    The city should take over the property through imminent domain, demolish the structure and turn the area into the adjoining parks. That silly little airport should be turned into park land also.

  17. Avatar


    June 2, 2023at4:20 pm

    Spyc and downtown are experiencing the same phenomenon. Outside people. Outside culture. Outside money. All of a sudden Miami is something to envy. It was fun while it lasted. I moved here 10 years ago to watch a sleepy beach town become a vibrant college town to become hotels nonsense politics and wtf. Thanks for the memories everyone. On to the next spot to ruin i guess.

  18. Avatar


    June 2, 2023at4:28 pm

    @penny whites are the majority. You’re referring to an athletics club.

  19. Avatar


    June 2, 2023at6:03 pm

    The architecture in Europe is so beautiful because they keep restoring the old buildings. It costs a bit more but you have a thing of beauty not a replicated box.

  20. Avatar

    Bill Waters

    June 4, 2023at3:57 pm

    So much misinformation.
    Building is Not 100 years old. Building was built in 1990, and has mechanical and structural issues now. Will be replaced by similar looking Club (no condo?). Remodel costs about 2/3 of new, Club would still be 6 feet below FEMA regs, FEMA will not allow Club to spend that much (Look up FEMA regs on that particular building. Its public info). Additionally, if the Club could remodel, not all issues would not be solved.
    There is no planned assessment. The Club has a wait list.

  21. Avatar

    Harold Dean

    June 4, 2023at6:05 pm

    It would be interesting to know how many buildings on Beach Drive comply with FEMA and should those that don’t be demolished? We have a beautiful building and the odds are it will last indefinitely as hurricanes in the gulf usually go to the panhandle and in the last 100 years have not been severe enough to destroy our building or those on Beach Drive . Some thing this important should be voted on by the membership.

  22. Avatar

    John Marshall

    June 6, 2023at7:09 am

    This will probably bankrupt this club.
    The city of St Pete building process is a minefield.
    Could take years to finish if ever.
    Plus there’s provisions in the club agreements with the city that could trigger it reverting back to the city.
    They’re going to need the wait list and a lot more to make it to the finish line.
    Season’s change my friend

  23. Avatar

    Taarou Bell

    June 6, 2023at8:43 am

    Hmmm… Let me guess more New luxury high rise condo, or apartment will be build in that spot.

  24. Avatar

    Rod Kock

    June 6, 2023at8:29 pm

    It’s not the original building. The original building was partially demolished and build around to make the current building. That was 25-30 years ago. There is very little recognizable that’s left of the old building.

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