Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So what the heck happened to the Boatyard Shopping Village?

Back in 1983 I was on a family vacation in Florida, and my parents were visiting some friends who lived in Clearwater, FL. One sunny afternoon our Clearwater friends took us to the Boatyard Shopping Village. Here's a postcard I just found while looking through some old junk.

Click to enlarge, or don't

Look, here's another Boatyard Shopping Village postcard I found online.

The Boatyard Shopping Village Antique Postcard

The Boatyard Shopping Village was a full of specialty shops and a few restaurants themed to look like an old timey fishing village. It sorta reminded me of Sweethaven from that live action Popeye movie. Well that is a less detailed Sweethaven, and one made out of rusting sheet metal.

Hey those Popeye sets are still standing! Imagine that!



Anywho, here's the back of the post card where you can read the official description for the Boatyard Shopping Village.



So now here's the mystery - what the heck happened to the Boatyard Shopping Village? As you can see from the Google satellite image below, it appears that all traces of the Boatyard Shopping Village have been thoroughly removed.


View Larger Map

Also except for the postcards I've found, I can't find any other evidence that this place ever existed. I thought the place was reasonably cool when I visited as a kid. Didn't anyone else? I thought for sure I'd find someone reminiscing about the Boatyard Shopping Village on some obscure message board.

This place is more mysterious than Brigadoon.

UPDATE:  Be sure to read the comments if you'd like more info on what happened to the Boatyard Shopping Village.  A big thank you to all the people who have left great comments so far!

44 comments:

Frederik Geudens said...

Hi!
I too remember visiting the Boatyard Shopping Village with my parents in May/June 1983. I have been in the area a couple of times more recently but never went to look for it again.
Because a colleague of mine is planning a trip to the St-Pete area I was doing some research and stumbled across your blog.
Have you learned more about this since posting your blog? I would love to hear about it.
I have a friend who lives nearby (in Tarpon Springs). I'll check with him as well.
I remember a bar in the village with a small Coca-Cola museum in it. And a live size bear in front of one of the shops. I was 10 years old at the time.
Regards,
Frederik (fre.geudensatgmail.com)

David W. said...

Thanks for the comment Frederik, but I don't know anything new about the "Boatyard." Maybe you and your Tarpon Springs friend will be able to uncover something. If you learn something about the history of this place please let me know.

Anonymous said...

i remember something about it being condemned because of a rat infestation.... they used to have an awesome haunted house which is why i was looking for it and stumbled across your blog

Anonymous said...

After several city code violations and numerous failed business attempts it was sold to the airport and demolished in 2000 to expand the airbase. The Turtle Club bar was also demolished, it was pretty run down and got some bad PR when 20 people were arrested for dealing drugs there. Both sites ran their course and closed.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, this subject came to mind, I googled it and came across this blog. I too went to this place as a kid and worked at the haunted house. Was a fun place back then; too bad it didnt last but you can always go to John's Pass village in Madiera Beach, FL and find a similar type of setup with an ol time fishing village look and feel. John's Pass is on the water with very nice views of the pass.

Dr. D. said...

Hey - glad that you created this webpage. I was also wondering whatever happened to Boatyard Village. I used to work on Roosevelt Blvd. in the early 1990's and we used to stop by there after work sometimes.By the way, your Google map location is incorrect I believe. Go up the side road off of Fairchild Dr. and you will see the remnants of Boatyard Village with the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
My name is Brandon. Years ago some friends and I had the theater open as a club. Our vision was to have the theater open during the day for the community to create and show artwork. We of course wanted to see play productions happen as well. When we were there....I think there was only two other shops open there. A restaurant and a rock/ precious stones shop was there.
We were there I think for about 9 months...we all became very close to the theater. The whole area had a charm that was truly magical. I can't even begin to tell you the stories we had from there...mostly how special and important the Boatyard was to us. Every one of us were affected in a deep personal way...we all loved that place so much.

Anonymous said...

Hello again,
This is Brandon...I had a reply about having the theater open earlier. You know, I bet someone out there has the blueprints for the whole village. Wouldn't be cool to see....? Even more so have it built again? I think the problem was location. It just was in a weird spot.
I miss that place so much. There was a young beautiful woman Chiara that opened the theater. She used all her money to open up the theater...we all wanted it to work. We just couldn't get off the ground, other than having a night life scene there. Chiara to me was the most magically profound woman that affected my life even still...our time there at the Boatyard was epic. Much later I ended up finding people that knew Chiara and we are still in touch today. Matter of fact just a few days ago we were writing out our memories from the Boatyard. Our time there meant so much to us...it was a dream come true.

Anonymous said...

To me Chiara and the Boatyard Village will always have a special place in my "life story." You know those times in your life u wish u could relive or change? I can't express right now how much Chiara means to me and the memories I have from there. If I had the money...I would build it again and give the theater to her to open again.
I wonder if anyone would know how to hunt down the blueprints of the whole village?

Anonymous said...

I lived right across Roosevelt from it. It was a cool place, although the shops were starting to empty out around the time we moved here in the late 80s early 90s. There was a really cool resturant back there as well, the 94th aero squadron? You could sit at the bar and put on old headphones to listen to the control tower at the airport.

Anonymous said...

Hello all. My name is Blake and I worked for a couple of years at the main restaurant there, called the Dockside Broiler. I was the main lunch cook there for the last year. Nice place and clean (no rats either, in response to an earlier post). I was there... November of 83 until September of 85. Either the restaurant or the whole Boatyard Village were owned by David Tallichet, famous aircraft collector (among other things). There was also IIRC another restaurant nearby, but not part of the village called the 94th Aero Squadron, also owned by Tallichet. It was a very fun place, and I made many friends there. The theater group called their theater the Doumouchelle Theater, and I attended a number of their performances. Tucked on the far corner of St Pete Airport, I always thought its location was its worst enemy, because it was a cool place.

RANDY S MITCHELL said...

Boatyard Village is featured prominently in a Hulk Hogan film (for the life of me can't remember which one) but I watch it just to be able to revisit the village.

william said...

Hey, I saw Black Uhuru there.
They played "Hey Joe"
Whole show was awesome.
and the venue was great.
Walking around on the boardwalks
while the music played.
It was a ral place,
but it defied description

http://youtu.be/O0H7Gam1SCw

Anonymous said...

i saw Frank Marino there outside at a festivalaround 93 or 94. Great show, and iis was a cool place. Didn't know until today that it was now gone, but i did see some black helicopters hovering and landing over that area within the vlast couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

Worked security there at night in 1991. The place didn't get a lot of traffic, although there was a little restaurant on the dock itself that would get traffic from the water. The place was interesting and creepy as hell at night.

A couple of businesses used the office space there. I remember the theater but only saw it open on my watch twice. There were other shops but the place was mostly empty, and I was told it never really rented out full capacity.

I also remember one of the buildings housed a whole bunch of old aircraft parts -- I guess the owner was using it for storage space.

I miss that place.

Chris Conley said...

I too was at the theatet in 1984. I played the teen who succumbed to the evils of demon rum inthe mellowdrama ten nights in a bar room. I worked on the lights for K2 did the lighting design for wizard of oz. I would love scans of the old playbills pictures of the shows reviews etc....if anyone has any...contact me on. Here ill get you my email...as with others I remember eating at all the restaurant mentioned my sr prom from gibbs was even out here...and I spent alot of time at the old fashioned soda fountain with hand mixed coke

Thanks foer the memories....
Chris

Anonymous said...

I remember going to lunch at Whiskey Joe's II at Boatyard. And a restaurant that appeared to be on an old boat near the north end of the village.

Anonymous said...

WRT the post about the Google map location being off, it isn't. The 94th was just to the right of the pin, along the runway, and the village was to the left. The remnants you see with the cul de sac is the old Turtle Club site, which was Las Fantanas before that. -Kent M.

Lee Matthews said...

I remember going to a carnival there a couple times a year in the '90s (about '95-'96). At Christmas the entire place would be lit up with Christmas lights, Santa for the kids, carnival rides for all. It was a great time. Was there not also a military plane boneyard there in the '80s-90s?

Josh Wiley said...

Boat yard village!!!! My parents opened a restaurant near the pavilion, The Pelicans Nest. We had the dock right to the water... I remember running around that place until late night in the summer, it was the early 90s, We stayed open later, the crew from the other restaurant would come over and have drinks at our bar. There was a old drunk crabber named les, would bring his catch of blue crab, pay his tab off. we would have a huge crab boil. miss that place. there was a shop called the itsy bitsy teenie weenie bikini shop. I remember the the toy store, the theater. it was a cool place to be a kid!!!

Josh Wiley said...

Also the Hulk Hogan movie that was filmed there, Thunder in paradise. Boat yard village is the first fight scene. You can find it on you tube...

Anonymous said...

We started going there in the late 70's and it was a hopping place back then. I believe most of the places had unique retail shops or restaurants. The sand crabs were really fun to watch. We ate at the 94th Aero Squadron many times and not only did you have the headsets, but there was a "Sandbag Theatre" which played old silent films and provided popcorn at all times. The theatre was small with only about 5 rows but had sandbags around the sides as if it was a fallout shelter. There was an old plane boneyard, which was interesting and sort of sad. It would have been great to have some signs talking about each of the planes and parts sitting there.
That rustic little "fishing village" was a great place to take our guests in the mid-80's. I miss it as well. Rob

Anonymous said...

Grew up in Seminole and would go down there from time to time as a little kid. Boatyard Village definitely had a more romantic feel than John's Pass. I think being off the beaten path made if feel more "Old Florida". Felt like an adventure going there. Remember an old fighter jet in the bone yard you could climb in the cockpit. Think I have a picture of me in it somewhere. Loved going to 94th as a well. They had a similar concept in Orlando when I moved there in the late 90's. Really cool places. Great concept if someone could ever bring them back.

So many lost treasures in the Bay Area. Maybe nostalgia for home is tricking my view but they were fun memories none the less.

Anonymous said...

BTW if you go on Google Earth and back date to 1994 you can see the buildings and the 94th. The old plane bone yard is there as well.

Terry B. said...

Just FYI, President Bush had a campaign lunch at Las Fontanas in 1992. It was an excellent restaurant, but just too upscale for the location, which is completely out-of-sight from the main road. That was the big problem for the whole Boatyard Village complex, too. The only time they got the traffic they needed was when they had a car show, or other well-advertised community event. Unfortunately, the fact that the entire site is still vacant for 15+ years now shows how little interest developers have for it. :(

Anonymous said...

It's a shame. A small piece of history gone. I am 45 years old now, but when my father first took me to the boatyard & the 94th aero squadron to eat lunch and watch the planes takeoff and land & the vintage airplane salvage yard for the first time of many times I was all of 8 years old. I also remember directly across the street from PIE in Smith's Industries parking lot, where my father used to work, watching the annual air show perform. Gone as well. A shame.

Bob Lee said...

I was employed at Boatyard for a short time in 87/88 as maintenance. One of the most fun places i've ever worked. Bob.

Anonymous said...

My parents used to own a jewelry store there. The "Pick a Pearl". I was around 4 I think, so 1984 or so. I think they only had it a year or two. Tourist ladies would be afraid to squish their pearls out of the oyster, so they would have me do it. Sometimes tourists would offer to buy me ice cream, I thought that was great! You can do the pick a pearl thing at Epcot at Disney World now. I should as my parents what year/s they had the shop. Heh.

Anonymous said...

It Looks like everyone forgot to mention the RAVES that were thrown here just before it closed down. I had very fond memories as a kid of boat yard village. Now all I remember are Candy Ravers running around that place.

CyclerJim said...

Wow. I just did a Google search for the 94th Aero Squadron and found this. I have fond memories of the Boat Yard Village in the early 80s. Unfortunately it's gone, like so many of the fun places in Florida. It makes me think of the Sea Wolf restaurant on Busch Blvd and The Rough Riders restaurant in Ybor. Those places were part of an era that is gone forever.
Florida is so different now, the good old days are gone.

Chris Conley said...

Bought a pearl for a girlfriend from your parents rhen :) would have been my sr year of HS.

Unknown said...

I used to work at 94th Aero but somehow missed visiting Boatyard Village. Sounds like it was a blast.

Ericb said...

I used to work at 94th Aero but somehow missed visiting Boatyard Village. Sounds like it was a blast.

Brian Mack said...

I worked at a waiter at the 94th Aero Squadron in the early 80's. It was a fun place to work with some interesting people. The motif was a French farm house set during WWI. I can't count how many times I heard Pack Up Your Troubles In An Old Kit Bag. LOL
The Boatyard came after I left.
There was also a dive bar at the corner of Roosevelt Blvd and Fairchild called The Flyin' Inn. We would all go there for a few beers after work.
Mack Truck

Anonymous said...

I did some temp work at the Boatyard Village for several months back in 1983 (when Reagonomics was running rampant and nobody could find a decent-paying job). Among our many tasks at the Boatyard was to carefully (and in accordance with state laws on preventing erosion) prune back the dead mangroves surrounding the covered open-air banquet and shindig area at the southwest end so that patrons would not have their vision of the brackish water (and occasional dolphins) obscured. The idea was to wade into a thicket of mangrove bushes with pruners and chainsaws and cut ONLY the dead ones, and ONLY prune the main stalk to waist height. We were told that there'd be hefty fines imposed on our employers if we accidentally cut or killed any live mangroves and The Authorities caught wind of it. Therefore, when we inevitably did accidentally cut back a green branch or two, we made sure to strip the leaves off and then bury it in the big brush pile we were creating on the extreme northern end of the property behind the "north lake". As you can imagine, working in a Tampa Bay swamp inlet in the dead of summer can be favorably compared to working on the surface of the planet Mercury, but the periodic breaks to swig ice water and run a load of branches down to the pile in a golfcart at high speed did serve to cool us down somewhat. Then there was that Coke-themed restaurant which served Genuine Old-Timey-Style Coca Cola in a tall fountain glass which was first filled with seltzer and then a couple of squirts of Coke syrup and then hand-mixed with a spoon by a dude wearing arm garters. It was nice. Especially once he got to know you and you could ask for one with extry syrup, please, sir. There were several misc. nautical and oceanic-themed knick-knack and shell stores scattered about, and I still have a set of framed metallic faux-intaglio renaissance maps which I purchased in one of those stores after work one day.

A few months later I managed to gain employment nearby in a light industrial area manufacturing and selling security & alarm components, and it quickly became my daily habit for the next two years to drive the mile or three up 49th street and cross over to Fairchild Drive and then choose from any of several places near the Boatyard Village and the 94th Aero Squadron to park the car, furtively hit the pipe, unwrap my bologna and cheese sammich, and eat it while reading science fiction novels. Imagine - you younglings - of a time before NINE-ELEVEN!!!! when I could do this: Most of the time I parked my old faithful '72 Chevelle station wagon in a field about 200 feet away and facing the airport runway just north of the 94th Aero Squadron parking lot. I sat there watching planes take off and land as well the Coast Guard C-130s practicing their touch and go bounce landings - always accompanied soon thereafter by the stench of burning rubber. Meanwhile, the 94th Aero Squadron parking lot had an exterior speaker which played a loop of WWI-era songs. Sitting there getting stoned and having lunch every weekday for years, I cannot recall how many times I heard "Over There", but I still recall the lyrics.

Years later I moved back into the area and went exploring only to find Fairchild come to a dead end and a Serious Fence and Signage saying GO AWAY.

Alas, t'was all gone. No more Boatyard, no more 94th Aero Squadron, no field, no access, no WWI songs, no nuthin' no more. Naught but dead images, memories, and a Hulk Hogan movie remains (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKsqDx9VrLs)

Well, and this here page.

Anonymous said...

If you have Google Earth, you can view Boatyard Village from 1994 until now. It is amazing but sad at the same time.

Marcy Yauchler said...

Our water ski team used to put on shows in the little pond. It would draw quite a crowd. We had a car on one end with a rope wraped around a wheel rim. A little boat would bring the rope to use and radio to the guy in the car when we were ready. He would step on the gas and away we went across the pond. Those were the good old days. I really miss 94th Aero Squadron and the haunted houses too.

Anonymous said...

I was in my late teens and don't remember much from that time, but I do remember seeing Hootie and the Blowfish perform at The Village. Early to mid 90's I quess.

Todd D said...

There used to be really good early proto raves back there. I went to a few in early 90's. Great times. Rave on everyone!!!

Anonymous said...

I used to run around there a LOT from September 1983 until early 1986, when I was in my late teens and early 20's. I met my wife there at the lingerie shop next door to the toy shop my aunt owned. I miss Art and the ice cream shop. I helped him out many weekends there. I also miss Barry & Shirley and their candle shop. They were such nice people. I was sorry to hear of the Boatyard's closure, but was not surprised. Just in the time I spent there I saw it go from weekends with a full parking lot to very little traffic.

Anonymous said...

seeing PHISH at the pavillion in the early 90s also drinking at the crab cooker

Mark McCarty said...

Hi Everyone, my name is Mark. I bussed tables at 94th Aero Squadron in 1979. It was really one of the most unique places I ever worked in the many years I was in the business (the old La Cave Restaurant on Indian Rocks Beach being the other).

The floor crew at 94th at that time was pretty crazy. That was the first time I ever worked with anyone who was openly gay, so it was sort of an eye-opener for me, even though there was one openly gay kid at Largo High when I went to school there. One of the waiters there was a Vietnam vet, and he was just one of a number of misfits, free spirits and lost souls working there, a type that populated the industry back then.

One of the gay waiters' name was Rick, but he went by the now-politically incorrect nickname of Dago. I have no idea whether that was a nickname he chose for himself, but no one was bothered by it. One of the waitresses (if you'll pardon the term) was named Judy, and everyone called her Judy Buns or Judybuns for some reason. I remember like it was yesterday that I was walking past one of her tables and Judy was bending down over some guy sitting at that table, and she was telling him, "you are the rudest person I ever met." She got away with it!

The parties we had were epic in terms of alcohol abuse. Classic hard-working, hard-partying restaurant scenario, and I never worked at another place to match it in terms of the variety of characters. Hard to believe that was 38 years ago. I left after working there for about a year, and went back for a short stint about two years later. Alas, everyone I knew from before was gone, and it wasn't the same at all. I have no idea what became of any of them, but I know I'll always remember and cherish that one amazing year at 94th Aero Squadron. Crazy, chaotic, and beautifully nuts.

Mark McCarty said...

Correction on the date: Instead of 1979, it was late 1977 when I started working there.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could go back in time and see Phish when they performed there in 1994.

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