The 37,000-square-foot Treasure Island Yacht and Tennis Club will soon have a new lease on life as an entertainment and hospitality destination with pickleball facilities.
Its new ownership group has no plans to redevelop the embattled property that recently changed hands twice in less than five months. West Hollywood, California-based Tavaco Properties acquired the 7.76-acre waterfront club in late December from an entity connected to Bank OZK.
Tavaco officials now seek individual operators to upgrade and transform the site’s multiple venues. Managing partner Sam Tavakoli told the Catalyst that once-popular weekend pool parties could return in March.
“Many people out there have disposable income, and they want entertainment,” Tavakoli said. “We want to help fill that void and give people what they want.”
He plans to convert the club’s six tennis courts into pickleball facilities. Tavakoli said the building’s first floor, currently vacant and used for storage, could house a pro shop.
The area could also house a small café and retail store catering to the 47-slip marina’s tenants. Tavakoli called rental interest “on fire.”
“The property was so mismanaged before that they weren’t even signing leases,” he added. “We’ve been filling up the marina and getting a ton of activity there.”
Tavakoli said the overarching goal is offering a “club-like feel” to the general public. He said visitors could play pickleball, work out at a downstairs gym, have a couple of cocktails by the pool and a nice meal at the second-floor restaurant.
Tavakoli said discussions with numerous local and national hospitality groups to operate the restaurant are ongoing. However, he pledged that the facility would not feature a chain or “tourist trap.”
The firm also seeks long-term tenants to oversee the third-floor event space. Tavakoli said the venue, which includes a fully operational kitchen, is move-in ready for someone with a catering and liquor license.
“But while that’s being finalized, we’re speaking with local operators for bringing back those weekend pool parties,” he added. “Again, we are not operators – we will not be hosting these. But there’s an immense interest.
“Truly, we’re trying to create a destination here.”
Tavakoli said the pickleball facilities would “absolutely” have a separate operator. However, he said the local market’s popularity has garnered interest from national groups who want to manage the event space, restaurant and pool.
Tavakoli stressed the importance of finding ideal operators and setting them up for success. He also wants to ensure synergies between the tenants.
While the long-term leasing process will take some time, Tavakoli hopes to find groups that can immediately utilize the event space and pool area. He also noted the club’s historically “astronomically high” liquor sales.
In January, Bank OZK’s property manager said the eight-acre parcel, the largest on Treasure Island, is “sitting useless” due to state statutes that prevent local governments from increasing density on barrier islands. St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards, the club’s former owner, sued the City of Treasure Island in November 2022 amid a zoning dispute.
Tavaco remains unphased by a lack of redevelopment opportunities. “Why develop condos when you have such a nice venue, and you have a target audience surrounding it,” Tavakoli said. “That’s our opinion.”
John Burpee, CEO of Seminole-based John Burpee & Associates, managed the property after Bank OZK acquired it from Edwards in August 2023 for $15.1 million. He said it was previously under contract with a local developer who defaulted on the contract.
However, he noted Tavaco was an all-cash, fast-close buyer. Founded in 1987, the firm’s website boasts extensive experience with nonperforming loans, value-added investments and repositioning projects.
Tavakoli said the company owns assets throughout Tampa Bay and has kept a close eye on the region’s “impressive” growth. He called the opportunity to acquire eight acres of waterfront land in Treasure Island “tough to pass up.”
“We want to create a venue of entertainment and hospitality for the community,” Tavakoli added. “That is where the void is. I can’t emphasize that enough.”
He said potential operators are considering “pouring tons of money” into the club. Tavakoli also stressed that a local group could open the pool and event space “tomorrow.”
He said the firm intends to purchase additional properties in the area. Tavakoli credited Mayor Tyler Payne and other Treasure Island officials for their support throughout the process.
“It’s so nice to see a city where the officials care and want to see the city and operators succeed,” Tavakoli said. “It’s very refreshing.”