Former YMCA transforming into hotel, production company needs interviewees for project documentary

A developer is turning the former YMCA building in downtown St. Petersburg into a boutique hotel, and a local production company has been documenting the process.
 
Nick Ekonomou bought the historic building at 116 Fifth St. S. in November 2015 and wants to renovate it into The Edward, a 4-story, 61,000-square-foot luxury hotel and event venue. He plans to have between 77 and 90 rooms with an average size of 350-500 square feet. Once complete, he sees weddings, parties, corporate events and concerts taking place at the space.
 
"We will have a roof top bar/entertaining area; a huge ball room, 5,000-6,000 square feet with 40-foot ceiling heights; full restaurant with fine dining and full bar; event spaces; original YMCA pool and his/hers sauna/steam and changing rooms; specialty cocktail lounge; coffee and café; gift shop," Ekonomou says. 
 
He estimates the project will be complete in late 2017 and that the total investment will be between $10 million and $15 million. So far, he has secured the exterior renovation, which includes a new roof, as well as some exterior wall repairs, painting, water proofing and new windows.
 
Throughout the process, producers Ben Daniele and Doug Tschirhart of Scatter Brothers have been documenting the restoration. Eknonomou hired them at the beginning of the project.
 
"His idea is to document the construction and put together a documentary about the history of the building and its rebirth," Tschirhart says. "We also are creating YouTube videos talking about the people and companies involved in its construction."
 
So far, the pair has completed eight installments, interviewing a few people about their memories of the building. Jack Bodziak, an architect who owned the building at one time and is also the current architect, was one of the first people to share an anecdote.
 
"The building was one of several built in 1926, right before Florida had a 'great depression' before the rest of the U.S. and stopped construction and building around St. Pete," Tschirhart says. "Jack Bodziak told this story."
 
Now, Daniele and Tschirhart are looking for others to interview. They'd like locals to share their memories for the next phase of their documentary.
 
"Any stories from people who had any involvement at the old YMCA in its original form," Tschirhart explains.
 
The documentary is intended for distribution by a major network sometime after completion, although there is no distributor secured at this time.
 
"We know this building means a lot to people who grew up in the area,” says Daniele in a statement. “We want to give those people a chance to share their stories, so that they can be a part of the YMCA's preservation, as well as it's restoration."
 
If you'd like to share your memories of the YMCA with the Scatter Brothers for inclusion in the documentary, email info@scatterbrothers.com.

Read more articles by Ashley Reams Mistretta.

Ashley Reams Mistretta is a writer and editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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