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Privateer turns 50

March 8, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Amid the party of Privateer neighbors, resident Joel Rudy turned his eye toward the condominium's pool.

"My daughter used to swim in that pool. She learned how to swim there," he said. Lisa, his daughter, is now 40. Rudy and his wife, Marlene, were one of the first buyers at the condo.

The Privateer isn't just a place to live - to its residents, it is the keeper of many memories.

Article Photos

Privateer resident Susan Dzyacky and Joanne Shamp place the Privateer's historic recognition plaque.

On Friday, March 3, its residents and its makers celebrated those memories. All 50 years.

The Privateer is the oldest condominium on Fort Myers Beach. It earned its historic recognition from the Town of Fort Myers Beach, and the residents decided to celebrate.

Around 50 residents gathered together for a toast and dinner. Susan Dzyacky, a resident who's been at the Privateer since 2009, was the one who dug into her home's history to get it recognized. It all started when she cleaned out a storage room in the community area, and started finding old blueprints and brochures. Through her research, she discovered a few special guests to invite to the party.

She invited Appie Scott and her son, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, to the party - Mike's father, Arthur, was the general contractor for the complex.

She also brought Dianne Johnson, the daughter of the developer Aaron Johnson.

"In 1967 this was a big project," Mike Scott said.

He remembers the area very well - while his father was building in the summertime, his family would live in one of Johnson's other beach properties to cut out the commute time.

"We would be on the beach all day," he recalled.

Town Council Member Joanne Shamp, who was the chair of the Historic Preservation Board at the time of the Privateer's application, also attended the party. She was happy to see a program that she helped implement come to fruition.

"This is exactly what was envisioned in the comprehensive plan to recognize historic structures," she said. "This meeting exemplifies the excitement for historic preservation."

During the celebration, residents also recognized the manager, Dennis Price, for 20 years of service. Residents all pitched in to give Price a hefty thank you - $10,000.

"It is an honor - and I'm not going anywhere," he said.

The Privateer was built in 1967. With its two entry buildings having three floors, it was considered a high rise at the time. The buildings have been kept to their original architecture and design. When it was built, the units sold for $17,000 to $26,000. Now, they sell for $400,000 to $500,000.

Resident Lisa Wallis attended the event with one of her neighbors, Judy Pelletier. Wallis is a third-generation owner at the Privateer - her grandparents and then her parents owned in the complex and she's keeping up the tradition. Pelletier's parents also owned a unit.

Both said they loved the small size and friendly nature of the community. As they spoke, they pointed out a martini glass flag flying by the pool as just one memory and testament to the nature of their community.

A former resident, Lois Anderson, made the flag. When it was flying, residents would grab whatever food they had in their fridge and drinks and come down for an impromptu potluck by the pool.

"The way the complex is, it's the Privateer family," Wallis said.



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