History of Yacht Club Estates

        This is a neighborhood surrounded by bridges. Take a moment and read the History of Our Bridges...

early yceIn the mid 1950s, Robert E. Lee, a land developer from South Carolina, predicted that thousands of newcomers would flock to Florida and want waterfront homes. But the supply of waterfront property was already dwindling. Facing few restrictions, Lee launched a vast dredging operation to place fill on existing sand bars within newly constructed retaining seawalls to create the waterfront property which became Yacht Club Estates. This would be one of the last areas to be scooped out of the sea. After years of petitions from area environmentalists, dredging and seawall construction was halted in 1972, by the Pinellas County Aquatic Preserve Act.

Development of the land started in 1958, with the first houses built soon afterward by a premier builder of the area - Frank Stum.  Strum had built other developments. However, he viewed them as having sameness that he was said to have referred to as “cookie cutter houses.”  Yacht Club Estates was his vision for something different--a really great development.  Other premier builders (Jack Apple and Clarence Sibley) were also invited to build homes. All had one objective:  to make Yacht Club Estates a truly elite and unique community.  The price of a lot in 1960 was $4,900 and homes were sold for $22,000 including the lot. The photo above-right shows Yacht Club Estates with only a few homes on 9th Ave. South near the bridge from Causeway Isles. This is an aerial view from Blind Pass (Photo from R. Wayne Ayers book "Tampa Bay's Gulf Beaches.")

orig_planThe original plan as described to your Webmaster by one of the original residents included both a Yacht Club (hence the name) and a Marina.  The topology of the current Yacht Club Estates still reflects this plan.  The section of houses without waterfront access bounded by 12th Avenue and 80th Ct. are on the land originally designated for the Yacht Club facility.  The protected circular waterfront bounded by 80th and 12th Avenue was to have been the Marina area.  The non-waterfront houses on 79th Circle across the bridge in Causeway Isles stand on what was planned as a “green zone” for a Park and Play Area for neighborhood children. The image from Google Earth to the right has been annotated to indicate where these originally planned features would have been located.

Unfortunately, economic times became difficult and sales sagged.  It became necessary to sacrifice parts of the dream such as the Yacht Club, Marina, and Park Area.  The land was instead sold for home construction.

Some of the original homeowners, for example the Brizzis who moved in in 1959, still reside in Yacht Club Estates.  One of the most unusual stories from an early resident describes a neighbor who had a sea plane which he would glide across the basin and onto the ramp behind his house. Many of the children who grew up in Yacht Club Estates have returned live here with their families.