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St. Pete’s downtown YMCA to be remade as boutique hotel

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Plans to reinvent the long-shuttered YMCA in downtown St. Petersburg have begun.

Owner Nick Ekonomou announced his purchase of the Mediterranean revival-style building in November and is working on the building’s exterior to prevent further damage to the historic structure. The Y is set to become a boutique hotel and event space.

Now Ekonomou is making plans to erect another building in between it and the Tampa Bay Times building. He plans a nine-story luxury apartment building complete with a parking garage, rooftop bar and lap pool.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the renovated YMCA and new building will be called “The Edward” after Ekonomou’s father and grandfather.

Ekonomou told the Times the two projects should cost about $10 million: $6 million for the renovated Y and $4 million for the new building. He expects to have plans to City Council by June.

The basement pool at the old Y will be reinvigorated. A room at the entryway will be a daytime lounge and nighttime piano bar and cigar lounge for hotel guests. The hotel will boast three penthouse suites, two with staircases leading to its own tower.

Other units will serve as short- and long-term stay rooms about the size of studio-size apartments.

What once was a large gym will be turned into a wedding and event space. He also plans a private membership facility with more high-end bars.

Ekonomou plans to keep the structure’s historic appeal intact. That should relieve some in historic preservation.

Ekonomou has also acquired the historic Acheson-Mackey house built by famed developer Cade Allen in the Allendale Terrace neighborhood.

A third-party group has petitioned City Council to designate the home and its property a historic landmark, fearful Ekonomou would raze the home in favor of more lucrative development. However, he later took over the petition himself promising his own commitment to ensure historic preservation.

Ekonomou is a high-profile South Florida developer. He’s a former football player for Florida State University with various stints in pro sports including a brief period with the Miami Dolphins.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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