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St. Pete Yacht Club’s redevelopment plans inch forward

Mark Parker

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

The St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s leadership now has a tentative goal to demolish the waterfront landmark – first opened in 1917 – and build anew in fiscal year 2028-29.

Members received the latest project update Monday. The email, obtained by the Catalyst, followed several Building Replacement Oversight Committee (BROC) meetings from July 2023 through February.

The update describes a “bottoms-up approach” to determine site utilization and maximize construction resources primarily provided by club dues. The Yacht Club has completed a property survey at 11 Central Avenue, soil tests and gathered information regarding city ordinances and easements.

The Feb. 27 BROC meeting minutes state that global engineering firm Skanska will lead the master planning phase and prepare conceptual designs to share with city officials and members. Pre-cast concrete massing models, which illustrate what could fit at the site, provided two building options that include 48,500 square feet of airconditioned space and a pool.

“Now that we know the most we can put there, we have to start thinking about what we want to put inside,” said rear commodore and project spokesperson Joe DiVito in a subsequent interview. “That’s going to take a series of meetings with a whole group of people and committees.”

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

He expects members to discern how much space they want to allocate for a new restaurant, ballroom and meeting areas in six to 10 months. Stakeholders must also decide if they should build a new parking garage.

The Yacht Club built the current structure in the 1980s to withstand a Category 1 hurricane. DiVito said withstanding a Category 4 is the new building standard, and officials are receiving cost estimates to bring it up to code.

“By the time we finish construction, we’re going to have a 45-year-old parking garage,” he added. “Choice two is tearing the whole thing down, building the parking garage underneath the club and building the club above it. That has not been decided.”

Mother nature is playing a prominent role in the project. The “Great Hurricane of October 1921” forced a complete rebuild four years after the Yacht Club opened.

Hurricane Ian highlighted the need for a more environmentally resilient facility when it hit Southwest Florida in late September 2022 and decimated several similar yacht clubs.

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

In addition, stakeholders expressed the need for a new elevator, roof and pool deck, an updated kitchen and electrical repairs. In June 2023, former club president Brian K. Smith told club members that an expensive remodel would still not comply with current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations.

The building’s floor elevation is six feet below building standards, and FEMA rules mandate a complete replacement if storm damage exceeds 50% of the facility’s appraised value. DiVito said those factors could influence the construction timeline.

“It could change based on costs, based upon storms – hurricanes that we get – any number of factors,” he explained. “We don’t know what the costs are going to be in four and a half to five years – so, it might take a little longer,” DiVito added. “And we could have somebody say, ‘I’d like to give you x amount of dollars to help with construction,’ and we could start earlier.”

According to meeting minutes, Yacht Club officials will meet with the city’s historical preservation staff to obtain demolition approval. The document notes that organizations, such as Preserve the ‘Burg, may want to “voice their opinion.”

While there is a 50-foot height restriction above base flood level, the Yacht Club could build up to 75 feet with city approval following a public hearing. The emailed update states that there is time “to be thoughtful and methodical prior to officially engaging the team that will deliver a timeless, elegant and functional clubhouse that embodies the spirit of our prestigious club while meeting the needs and aspirations of our members.”

The Yacht Club has already started building a new event pier and 475-foot floating dock. DiVito said the existing structure is over 50 years old and was becoming a “real problem.”

The new pier will better accommodate regattas and several other events hosted at the facility. “We tackled that first, and I think it’s going to be a tremendous asset to the club and the community,” DiVito said.

Contractors install concrete pilings for a new event pier and floating dock at the Yacht Club. Photo: St. Pete Yacht Club.

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike

    March 13, 2024at8:45 pm

    This has a very good chance of bankrupting this club. Ask treasure island and Sarasota. Let’s hope they learned from the current docks debacle.

  2. Avatar

    John

    March 13, 2024at1:10 pm

    As an 8yr member of the club, I cannot wait to see this building demolished and built a new. St Pete and Preserve the Burg should still maintain that historic look, while updating the entire property from the inside out.

  3. Avatar

    Joe Harbor

    March 13, 2024at12:09 pm

    There is need and then there is reality, no one knows how they are going to pay for this, the target figure is around $54M, who knows in 5+ years. I do not support “if its old, pull it down” ideology …FEMA or not, this concept would endanger a large percentage of Downtown St Pete (and most coastal areas). The new marina they are building is now way behind schedule and costs gone from $5M+ to 8M+. Not sure where 2400 members (apron 3400 individuals)are going to go for 2 years. I thing SPYC Board has an agenda, which is not shared by all members.

  4. Avatar

    Scott Simmons/Cast of Characters

    March 12, 2024at10:30 pm

    I live in Mexico, but my grandfather was a PAGYC Commodore. I thought this was insane until I saw Joe DiVito was involved. I trust Joe and his good judgment. The world is changing and it gets hard to keep up. Thanks care caring Joe!

  5. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    March 12, 2024at5:57 pm

    It was in 1990 that the SPYC proposed to close the easternmost section of 1st Ave. North that passed through south Straub Park. We had a weak Mayor/City Manager form of government then and an agreement was reached to close the street and allow the footprint of the club house to expand. The St.Petersburg now Tampabay Times has archived articles about the process. The renovation that was completed 1992 is how the site looks today.

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