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Gregory Fancelli has an offer for fellow members of the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club: Before taking any vote to demolish the club’s historic building on Lake Hollingsworth, the group should have outside experts review preservation options — and Fancelli will pay the club’s administrative and building maintenance costs for the two months or so the review takes place.
Club officials said last month that the cost to renovate the 1924 Mediterranean structure would far exceed the $6 million budget for the project and they were drafting plans to reconstruct the club, possibly retaining the front facade.
Members have been invited to a Thursday evening meeting to review “new concept architectural drawings, the cost of the new construction and the financing structure.”
In a letter to members, Fancelli called demolition irreversible and said, “I believe it may be possible to perform renovations, preserve all or a large part of the existing historic structure, and re-open for business for less than the proposed budget to be spent on demolition and new construction.”
Fancelli, Historic Lakeland Inc’s preservationist of the year in 2016, is probably best known for saving a building known as the Tudor House from destruction by buying it and moving it from Lake Hollingsworth to a nearby lot on Florida Avenue in Dixieland. The Tudor now houses a craft beer-and-wine lounge called Cob & Pen.
“If we find it is feasible to preserve the building, I will, of course, advocate for that course of action,” Fancelli said. “But if we do not find a way, I will happily stand down. A blind exercise in obstructionism does not serve anyone’s interests.”
City commissioners last week passed first reading of a land use measure that would allow reconstruction on the Yacht Club property.
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It would be an absolute shame not to preserve this Lakeland Landmark that closed during the Great Depression, reopened and sustained for many Year. It is one of the few landmarks of Lakeland left. Preserve Preserve Preserve.
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