A terse message on its Facebook page announced that The Club at Treasure Island, a former yacht club bought by businessperson and music producer Bill Edwards in 2009, is now “permanently closed.”
Edwards said in a phone interview that he was “tired of losing money” and that he has sold the club. The deal is still in the process of closing, so he declined to reveal the buyer or the selling price. He said he doesn’t know if the new owners will reopen the club, but he said the marina is still in operation. Future events such as weddings “are taken care of,” he said.
Edwards, 78, made his money as a mortgage lender, though that business has fallen on rough times. He gained a high profile in the community as a music producer, owner of the Sundial entertainment plaza, former owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, manager of the Mahaffey Theater and a prominent donor to political and civic causes.
It was at the height of this higher profile that Edwards rescued the former Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club from bankruptcy in 2009. He had hoped to add a second building and ballroom but said he ran into numerous hurdles from the city and withdrew. His recent plans to add condominiums around the club also ran into roadblocks, leading him to put the place up for sale. Edwards is now suing the city over his failed condo plans.
Edwards still revamped the club, bringing in top chefs and offering yachting from 41 boat slips, tennis, WaveRunner rentals, a fitness center and a swimming pool that held a weekly Sunday afternoon pool party with live music. He brought in entertainers such as Jon Secada, the Commodores, Ben Vereen, Wayne Brady, Kevin Nealon and Paul Reiser. He had dreams of turning it into the first major beachside concert venue in the area.
“Dreams don’t always come true,” Edwards said Wednesday. He lost close to $20 million since he bought it 14 years ago, he said. “That’s $20 million I wish I still had, believe me.”
Edwards sold his interest in the Sundial complex on the 100 block of Second Avenue N in St. Petersburg in early 2022 for $27.5 million. And in 2020, Edwards put up his 1.73-acre compound on Brightwaters Boulevard to sell two neighboring homes for $19.9 million.
Having divested his mortgage company and his bigger real estate properties, Edwards said his primary focus will now be his nonprofit Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts and the running of the Mahaffey Theater.
Planning your weekend?
Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
On Monday, the club posted on its Facebook page: ”Well friends, it’s been reelz. Thanks to all who came out and made our last day so awesome. The Club at Treasure Island is now permanently closed.”
Some of the fans of the Sunday pool party were dismayed by the sudden message that offered no further explanation.
“Literally, just two days ago, they’re promoting people coming out for live music, pool, etc.,” wrote Melissa Stiles. “I’m so sad about this!”
Treasure Island Mayor Tyler Payne said he has fond memories of the club, having grown up in the beach town.
“As kids, that’s where we hung out every Friday night,” Payne said. “It’s sad to see a staple of the city closing. I just hope that something good will come of it and we’ll get a club again.”