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Insurance claim report: Damage to Yacht Club Main Ballroom set at $25,000

By VALARIE HARRING - | May 19, 2023
Front entry of the Cape Coral Yacht Club taken Oct. 27, 2022 by Rex Porter as part of the city's insurance claim.

Front entry of the Cape Coral Yacht Club taken Oct. 27, 2022 by Rex Porter as part of the city's insurance claim.

A city of Cape Coral insurance claim puts hurricane-related damage to the Cape Coral Yacht Club’s historic community center at just under $25,000.

The building, constructed by the city’s developers and opened to the then-budding community in 1962, incurred no storm surge into the structure, the Feb. 8 claim document to the city from Florida Municipal Insurance Trust states.

Damage to the building came from rainwater that entered through windows broken by wind from Hurricane Ian. There was also wind damage to metal roof facia and the roof edge of the club house; wind damage to the wood fence that surrounds the outside air-conditioning units; gutter damage on the attached locker room building caused by a fallen tree and wind damage to the portico at the front of the building.

The adjustment letter states that the main roof had incurred damage from an earlier storm and was already tarped over some portions.

The support beams showed age-related stress cracks that may have been exacerbated by Ian however that damage was not determined to be permanent.

“The front entry driveway Portico sustained wind damage to soffit metal, Gutters along the back side, and metal siding around beams,” the adjustment/scope of damage portion of the letter states. “The support timbers under the Portico roof show stress cracks in some areas from age. Some of the cracks appear to have opened up due to the strong winds. We do not see it as permanent damage, however the Insured may want to have engineering inspect to be certain the integrity of the large beams is intact.”

The letter includes multiple photos documenting the damage cited.

The insured limit on the building is $1,897,510. The deductible applied is $94,876. The damage estimate is $24,565, the letter states.

Another report puts the market value of the structure at approximately $680,000.

The city-commissioned appraisal document for the main building/ballroom facility dated Dec. 27 and intended for purposes of compliance with the FEMA 50% Rule puts the market value of the structure at $679,153.

The detailed evaluation report prepared by Maxwell•Hendry•Simons, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm, cites a number of deferred maintenance issues.

Those issues, based on an April 4, 2022 facility conditional assessment provided by the city, include water leakage, requires re-roof; insufficient gutters and downspouts; the need to replace the electrical system, the plumbing distribution system, two HVAC units and the east hall ceiling. It also states the exterior is “not compliant with current hurricane standards.”

The reconstruction estimate for the 13,657-square-foot building was set at $3,234,063, according to the Maxwell•Hendry•Simons appraisal report.

Saying the building is damaged beyond repair, the city of Cape Coral is preparing a bid package for the demolition of the Yacht Club in September or October.

The city’s website states the boat ramp, beach, marina and all other amenities at the park complex remain closed to the public in the wake of the Sept. 28 near- Category 5 hurricane. It also addresses the status of the buildings, which, in addition to the community center, includes the Tony Rotino Senior Center.

“Due to the extent of damage received during Hurricane Ian, the remaining Yacht Club Community Park buildings will be demolished, the city’s website states. “Demolition is expected to start in September or October, pending FEMA approval. A charity auction has been discussed for some items in the Ballroom, but details are still being worked out.”

The future waterside design and construction, including seawalls, a boat ramp, and a marina, is contingent on federal and state permits. City staff is reviewing the design scope for a landside master plan and expects it to come before Council for Council for approval before its hiatus on June 14.

On Tuesday the city announced it had discontinued the Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park special project website – www.CCYachtClub.com – and email address – ccyachtclub@capecoral.gov. The latest Yacht Club news can by found by visiting the city website at www.CapeCoral.gov or by following the city’s social media channels, the city’s Communications Office said in a release sent shortly before noon.

Emails sent to the city’s Communications Office have not been returned.

The city denied a May 15 request from The Breeze to tour the facilities.

“We are not currently offering tours of the facility for safety reasons,” said Kaitlyn Mullen, senior public information specialist, in a May 16 email.

Members of city council reached via email said they had not seen the Feb. 8 insurance claim document prior to discussions on the demolition of the building.

Councilmember Bill Steinke said he did not receive the Feb. 8 claim letter prior to Council discussion because discussion actually pre-dates the letter.

“The initial discussion regarding demolition occurred at our winter retreat in January,” Steinke said via email. “The concern at the time regarded public safety and if the inevitable was that the buildings required demo due to the FEMA 50% rule, the action should be taken sooner than later, although not sooner than a point in time where FEMA assistance would contribute the maximum amount possible.”

Council is aware that there were issues with the Ballroom building that predate the storm, he said, adding this will impact whether repairs can simply be made or whether the structure would need to be brought up to current codes and standards.

“An analysis was conducted over a year ago (that I believe was distributed to the media), well before the hurricane and my election, that identifies serious structural and mechanical deficiencies requiring improvement,” he wrote. “You see, it is known by few that the FEMA 50% rule (obviously brought to light by Hurricane Ian), not only applies to storm damage, it also applies to improvements, regardless of cause. As repairs and renovations were being considered prior to the hurricane and in conjunction with the GO Bond initiative, this analysis was required to determine if THOSE corrections would break the 50% rule and if so, how that would be dealt with.

This is key, he said in answer to a question on his position on whether the building should be razed or repaired.

“The insurance damages claim has nothing to do with my position,” he said. “My first concern is that we meet our legal obligations with regard to the 50% rule – if we take actions outside of that, we put all of our citizens at risk of having their flood insurance premium rise SUBSTANTIALLY (yes, beyond the increases we have already seen) because of credits received by the NFIP that could be lost. My second consideration is preserving the historical significance of the Yacht Club while accommodating 5 times more citizens today and 10 times more citizens in the future. And finally, receiving as much outside funding as possible for the effort – whatever that effort will eventually be. There has been no decision on design, components, or layout and as far as I’m concerned, there won’t be until all the facts (data) are on the table. We finally got FEMA inspectors on site about a month ago and we are waiting for the receipt of their report. Trust that the speed of receiving FEMA’s determinations is just as frustrating – if not more – as it is for each of our citizens.”

Councilmember Jessica Cosden also said she had not seen the claim document before its contents came to light in media reports.

“No, I did not receive the insurance letter until this commotion brought it to my attention,” she said. “In the past, we have seen reports/data showing the ballroom is in need of extensive repairs (prior to the hurricane) including structural issues.”

She does not yet have a position on what the city should do about the building.

“I do not have an opinion on razing/repairing because I’m waiting on more info,” she said.

Meanwhile, a citizen effort is under way to have the Yacht Club centerpiece building declared historic and so prevent its demolition.

Dubbed “the hub and heart” of the community when the Cape’s founders opened it for the public in 1961, the club house should be preserved, according to the group, which has launched a Facebook page, Save the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Their email, for those who want more information on their effort, is savetheccyachtclub@gmail.com.

Editor’s note: This is an evolving story. It has been updated to reflect information from additional records and comments from Council members Bill Steinke and Jessica Cosden. It be updated with comments from the city and community stakeholders as we receive them.