Vinoy improvement project to go before St. Pete voters in November

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In addition to City Council contests (and possibly a mayoral race), St. Petersburg voters will also be looking at a referendum in November seeking more parking at the historic Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club.

The plan won’t cost any taxpayer money, however.

Currently, The Vinoy is working on a privately funded, $50-million-plus project that includes improvements to its spa, fitness center, golf course clubhouse, tennis courts and public restaurant facilities. Paul’s Landing, a new 200-seat marina-front restaurant, will be open to the public and includes indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a large grass event space.

Included in that basket of improvements is an expansion of the current one-story parking garage, adding approximately 270 new parking spaces. The existing eight tennis courts will be placed on top of the parking garage.

As a historic part of downtown St. Petersburg, the City of St. Petersburg Charter says portions of The Vinoy property are subject to deed restrictions. Any construction must first receive approval from residents.

 That means a new garage will have to go before voters in a citywide referendum.

“We think voters will be pleased to support the idea of additional parking at The Vinoy, because it does not involve taxpayer dollars, does not alter the footprint of the hotel, or impact our waterfront parks system,” said Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club General Manager Barbara Readey.

The entire redevelopment project will be funded privately by the hotel owner, FelCor Lodging Trust.

“Hotel ownership is committed to the long-term health of The Vinoy and ensuring it continues to be an iconic part of downtown St. Petersburg,” said Debra Feldman, FelCor’s vice president of Capital Transactions. “We look forward to answering residents’ questions about the project and continuing to ensure that The Vinoy is a good neighbor. ”

The voter approval process was put in place during a 1984 agreement when The Vinoy helped complete the city’s waterfront park system by trading its waterfront property for some of the areas immediately behind the hotel.

In 1997 and 2007, voters supported referendums for similar improvements to The Vinoy.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.