Cape Coral set final site plan for the Yacht Club; timeline for renovations still shaky

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Cape Coral City Council choose the final site plan for the Yacht Club, though the project is still at the mercy of permitting and has no set date.

The Cape Coral Yacht Club, which includes a yacht basin, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a ballroom, and a riverside beach, has served as a popular attraction and staple for the city since the 1960s but will soon undergo major renovations.

Here's what we know:

Changes to the Yacht Club site plan

James Pankonin with Kimley Horn, a consulting firm focusing on public and private developments, presented the information as a follow-up from a discussion in November.

There the council directed him to adjust the original renovation plans, which included a two-story community center, removing the tennis courts, and rearranging the area to accommodate a parking garage, a new restaurant, and a new resort-style pool.

The major updates based on previous comments now include:

•Realigned, curved entry into the park•Additional landscape buffering at the garage•Relocate the fountain to the park entry area•Shift the restroom on the beach to be more central•Maintain a walkable path connecting the beachfront•Prefer a longer pier and no restaurant at the pier•Resort pool with lap lane option•Provide a “quick snack” food option•Confirm parking counts per code based on uses

The proposed total parking at the yacht club includes 754 spaces: 596 for cars and boat trailers and 158 total boat slips.

There are currently 438 car parking spaces at the yacht club and 113 boat slips.

Pankonin said an additional proposed fourth level for the parking garage would provide an estimated 150 more parking spaces for a total of 904.

The new two-story community center would have 37,000 square feet and include a new ballroom, retail space, exterior balcony, storage and meeting space, and a multi-purpose hall.

Previous discussions  said the project could cost up to $100 million.

Previous Coverage Cape Coral making major changes to the Yacht Club Community Park

Related Cape Coral's Yacht Club Beach is open, how will renovations affect its availability?

Cape Coral Council OKs new design, wants fourth floor of parking

The council overwhelmingly favored the changes and new design, but they had some minor adjustments.

Councilmember Tom Hayden said some details still need to be worked out with the pool and fountain, but he likes the new designs.

He wanted to explore adjusting the length and lanes of the pool for competitive uses and find a way to make the fountain more visible to people entering and leaving the area.

Hayden favors adding a fourth parking floor to the garage.

"I think that's always going to be my biggest concern is to make sure that we have adequate parking and people are not hunting for space," Hayden said.

He said he still wants to see a room dedicated to the old Yacht Club.

Councilmember Bill Steinke asked about the pool lanes, and Hayden said he wanted to see eight lanes for competitions.

Steinke said he views the pool element more as a recreational amenity than competitive, so eight lanes is a bit much for him.

"You are not going to do competitive events in 25 meters, so I think expanding it a little bit for four lanes would be good," Steinke said.

New Councilmember Richard Carr said he also wanted to see a fourth level of parking, with parking spaces for the disabled taken into account.

Councilmember Dan Sheppard said he commends the work on the new design and is for it 100%.

"I believe this will be an extreme asset to our city, " Sheppard said.

He agrees with Stienke on the part of a recreational pool and wants to see a competitive pool elsewhere in the city.

Sheppards also wants the fourth floor of parking.

Mayor John Gunter sees the yacht club as a recreational facility and prefers a few lap lanes.

He also wants additional finger piers on the existing pier location.

"We want to make sure we maximize that access," Gunter said.

He also agrees with adding to parking.

"You'll probably be at capacity day one, so I would advocate for that fourth level," Gunter said.

Councilmembers Keith Long, Jessica Cosden, and Robert Welsh also agree with the fourth floor of parking.

Permitting woes could delay work to rebuild Yacht Club

Though the city is making headway in its vision for the Yacht Club, permitting creates uncertainty on when things can move forward.

Cape Coral is planning to demolish the main buildings at the yacht club, including the main ballroom building, the Tony Rotino Center, tennis courts, pool, and harbormaster.

Previously slated for demolition in late December/January, city officials anticipate getting under contract with a company for demolition within 30 days.

"Once under contract, the company will apply for permits with the City and begin demolition activities," said Cape Coral spokesperson Kaitlyn Mullen in an email statement.

Residents can use the beach while the demolition takes place.

Spokesperson Melissa Mickey confirms that no date is set on when demolition will begin.

Steinke asked about repairs to the boat launch to make it usable before demolition and groundbreaking starts.

City Manager Michael Ilczyszyn said they are waiting on permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.

He said the city will provide information on whether that will be beneficial in terms of time and resources, as they will need that space closed once demolition begins.

"So it's kinda like a crystal ball planning, so we can say go and repair the finger pier and say that we are going to open it, but then it's just time depended on the demolition permit and the Army Corps," Ilczyszyn said.

Ilczyszyn said if the city starts demolition within 30 days, it could take 60 to 90 days to complete, and he anticipates that by May, the city could have the permit necessary to start marine work.

Ilczyszyn could not answer if all the work at the yacht club could be finished within the next three to four years.

He also clarifies that after the demolition is over, there will be a period before construction can begin.

"We are still on two years for the site," Ilczyszyn said. "Now it's just how long does it take to design this and construct it?"

Luis Zambrano is a Watchdog/Cape Coral reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. You can reach Luis at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Lz2official.


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