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What's the future of Cape Coral's Yacht Club? Council ponders massive project

Thanks to Hurricane Ian, Cape Coral officials are looking to change the Yacht Club as we know it and start over, with a project that could cost as much as $100 million.

Mayor John Gunter said the previously approved design avoided the "nucleus" of the yacht club and was focused heavily on the outer perimeter such as the sea walls, docks, and landscaping.

"So now that we've had the damage with our buildings on the interior of this project, now it's almost an open canvas, an open area," Mayor John Gunter told The News-Press.

The changes could include a new two-story ballroom, removing the tennis courts, and rearranging the area to accommodate a parking garage and restaurant.

Hurricane Ian left a severe mark on the city of Cape Coral and its residents, and after months of recovery, the city government discussed options Thursday for its premier gemstone: the Yacht Club Community Park.

During its January city retreat, the city council decided to take a "clean slate" approach to renovate the heavily damaged facilities.

The damaged facilities include the likes of the ballroom, the Tony Rotino Center, and the pier, which could take $1.5 million to repair.

City Manager Rob Hernandez wanted direction from the city council on how the city should proceed with renovations.

"Based on our calculations, we are above the 50% FEMA rule, and so it's likely that we're not going to be able to repair the buildings and that we're gonna have to start from scratch," Hernandez said.

The 50% rule requires structures with substantial damage, or damage exceeding 50% of their market value, to meet the same requirements as new construction and current hurricane code, such as elevating the buildings.

The Yacht Club area, which includes the 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.

It was scheduled to close for two years to renovate the area and was waiting for permit approval, but Ian put those plans on hold while the city recovered.

Changes to the Yacht Club

James Pankonin, a landscape architect with Kimley-Horn, gave a presentation explaining possible changes that can be made to the design of the project.

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