A Gem of A Past, A Brighter Future
By Jerry Knight Commissioner 2003-2012
In 1935, Charles Redington, a road builder from Indiana who had resettled in St. Petersburg and went into the development business, built his first house in what was to become the communities that would forever bear his name. At the time, the area was known as North Madeira Beach.
Newspaper accounts say that Mr. Redington looked at the waterfront property and envisioned another Miami Beach. He ultimately bought 1,700 feet of Gulf frontage on which he also built the Tides Hotel and Bath Club. Its completion in 1936 marked the first major construction of a tourist facility on the beach since the Don Cesar was opened in 1926 in Pass-A-Grille.
The member operated complex was an immediate hit, and stimulated additional development, the bulk of it in the 1940s and 1950s, the years following the end of World War II.
When the Tides opened, there were five homes on Redington Beach, all built by Mr. Redington. Old newspaper photos also show a number of beach front bungalows. By the time Redington Beach was incorporated, there were close to 170 households, excluding the Tides.
Mr. Redington, meanwhile, continued pursuing his vision, dredging Boca Ciega Bay and filling the area to create the fingers that became known as Bath Club Estates.
The property that ultimately became the Town of North Redington Beach was originally part of a parcel 2 and ½ miles long that ran from the Bath Club to approximately 185th Avenue. It was sold in the 1920s by Jasper J. (Pop) Rhodes to the late David S. Welch for $7,000. A few years later, the North Redington portion of the parcel was acquired by the William H. Hill Estate. And in August 1947, it was sold to North Redington Beach, Inc. for $283,000.
How the Redington strip ultimately became three cities was explained in one newspaper article as follows: “As people moved into the stretch of beach, they congregated in three different neighborhoods that eventually took on their own identities, and were incorporated”. By the mid-1950s, the town lines were drawn as they are today.
Interestingly, there were consolidation discussions among officials of the three towns in the late 1960s and again around 1980. But these never bore fruit.
The boundaries for North Redington Beach became 164th Avenue on the south and 174th Avenue on the North. It was incorporated in 1953 under the leadership of Al Fellner, who became the town’s first mayor. The town didn’t realize its present form, however, until 1960 when Bath Club Estates was annexed.
There are pictures of the original town fathers, Mayor Fellner and two fellow commissioners, holding their town meetings on the back porch of the Town Clerk Ada Benzing’s home in 1959. A far cry from the current meeting facilities at Town Hall.
From the beginning, development followed a pattern envisioned by the founders. Tourist, multi-family residential and commercial along Gulf Boulevard, the main drag serving the beach. Single family residential in the fingers bordering the bay.
Development advanced at a steady pace, and by the time the town adopted its Comprehensive Plan of 1989, there were over 800 homes with a year around resident population of 1200. The seasonal population was nearly 1000.
In 1995, a new wave of activity was initiated with the sale of the Bath Club to a condominium developer, who razed the property to make way for what would become the Tides Beach Club with over 200 new luxury condo units. Across the way, other property that was part of the Bath Club complex was sold to developers who created what became of the four Villages of North Redington Beach, 78 three story town house units.
At the same time, other properties along the fingers were being acquired by individuals and remodeled, enlarged or replaced with more modern structures. Today, the resident population exceeds 1500 and the community is considered one of the gems of the beach.
Property that would become North Redington Beach is sold to David S. Welch for $7,000.
Charles Redington builds first home on Redington beaches.
Redington opens Tides Hotel & Beach Club, begins dredging Boca Ciega Bay for Bath Club Estates.
North Redington Beach, Inc. buys property for $283,000.
Al Fellner leads move to incorporate, becomes first mayor.
What was the Wine Cellar is built. Started as two separate businesses: Zebra Lounge and Original Wine House; later became Ken’s Wine House, then Connell’s Wine House, Pearl’s Wine House, and finally the Wine Cellar.
Gulf Boulevard is widened to four lanes with planted medians and parking, was called “Miracle Mile”.
Property for what is now Town Hall Park is purchased.
Bath Club Estates annexed.
Gull Harbor Phase I is built.
Property for Dolphin Park is purchased.
Property for Addie Graham Park is purchased.
Gull Harbor Phase II is built.
New Town Hall dedicated.
North Redington Beach Hilton is built (becoming the Doubletree in 2006).
Beach widened to 150 feet, restoring what was damaged by Hurricane Elena.
Gulf Front Park acquired next to the Redington Ambassador.
Tides Beach Club opens; Radcliffe Park property expanded, adding two lots and a second tennis court.
Baldanza Park dedicated; Ackerman Point dedicated; Sheriff takes over police duties.
Historic Bath Club bungalows restored, opening as Park Circle B&B.
Fire service contract signed with Seminole and Madeira Beach; First residents move into Villages of North Redington Beach.
Reclaimed water service extended to community; New pavilion presages development of Radcliffe Park into new community center.
Utilities are placed underground throughout the residential streets.
Oceans 12 condominium replaces the Flagship Hotel.
Pedestrian crosswalks are installed on Gulf Boulevard.
Redington Grand replaces the Sea Horse Hotel.
Medjool palms installed to beautify medians on Gulf Boulevard.
Beach renourishment replaces sand lost from Tropical Storm Debby.
Wine Cellar closes, paving the way for new development.