After estimates to renovate the 1924 Lakeland Yacht and Country Club on Lake Hollingsworth came in at $1.5 million over budget, a group of 70 to 90 members voted unanimously to look into building a less costly new structure on the site that would mimic the current Mediterranean design, The Ledger’s Christopher Guinn reports

Yacht Club members convene again in late January to review and vote on new building plans.

While plans to raze the building rankle preservationists (Historic Lakeland official Steve Shelnut calls the building a “defining” structure), the building does not come under the purview of the Lakeland Historic Preservation Board because it’s not in a historic district and isn’t listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Still, efforts to preserve the Yacht Club are expected to be discussed when Historic Lakeland’s board meets next week.

Here’s the email that was sent to Yacht Club members about the building last week:

Dear Members:

A member meeting was held on Wednesday, November 30th to discuss a new architectural plan for the Lakeland Yacht & Country Club.  A full set of minutes with an explanation as to the change of direction will be mailed the end of next week.

The Board has determined from the bids provided by Contractor Corey Miller, that a $6 million budget for a renovated club with all of the necessary amenities is not achievable.  After much thought and discussion between the Board, Architect Steve Boyington and Contractor Corey Miller, it was determined that it isfeasible to build a new, smaller,  more operational and cost efficient club, including all of the amenities within the $6 million budget.  This new club would be built in the same Mediterranean style and character.  We may be able to preserve the front wall (from gable to gable) or at least build it back to look the same.

After member discussion and primarily positive comments, the members voted unanimously to have a new set of drawings prepared and bid.  This information will be presented to the membership in late January for a final approval.  Corey stated that since it is much easier and faster to build new than renovate, we may be able to stay on the same timeline.

As one member appropriately stated, our memories are created within the club and the times you share with friends and family, not from the walls themselves.

A Ledger Facebook post about the issue has generated dozens of comments, which are dominated by several basic tropes:

  • The club has a small and exclusive membership and the property should be enjoyed by all of Lakeland, so tear it down.
  • Why are people who aren’t club members being asked for their opinions?
  • It’s a historic landmark that needs to be kept as a link to Lakeland’s past.
  • The building and its interior design is a mess, so a re-do sounds like a good idea.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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