In the Pelican Room, the writing was on the walls, literally.
Members of the Six Lakes Country Club community scrawled messages of condolences and other messages on the walls of the doomed building, to be razed and replaced with a new facility.
Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., as well as the leaders of the community, broke ground Monday on a new Old Florida-style, 21,000-square-foot clubhouse at Six Lakes Country Club, a resident-owned, 55-and-over community off Littleton Road in North Fort Myers.
The ground is turned over by residents, county officials, and others at the groundbreaking for the new clubhouse at Six Lakes Country Club last Monday.
Hundreds of residents came on their golf carts or walked to the old clubhouse, filled up the parking lots as well as the practice green to see the first shovels of dirt turned over.
The crowd showed just how badly the new building was wanted and needed. It wasn't lost on Willard Hill, a resident and supporter of the clubhouse.
"If it weren't for you being so supportive, we wouldn't be here. You deserve a pat on the back," Hill said of his fellow residents. "You've been our fans. This is for you."
Bonnie Allen, general manager at Six Lakes, said the time had come to replace the buildings.
"This building was about two years in the making. This is the support we see from the members and it's going be the community in North Fort Myers," Allen said. "I hope everyone comes to the grand opening."
Jan-Erik Hustrulid of Owen-Ames-Kimball said the new facility will have two buildings, a new Pelican and Seagull, and will include a 70-seat full-service restaurant, pro shop, administrative offices, a banquet/entertainment hall seating 400, community kitchen, card room, fitness center, billiard room, library and computer room.
On the outside, the swimming pool and spa will include two lap lanes and a large area for water aerobics. Included in the new design will be the Sand Bar, a unique outdoor seating area with bar and food service. The gatehouse will also be expanded.
The $7 million project will be financed through Bank of America, but will have no impact on assessments, as it will be a continuation of the capital improvements just completed at Six Lakes through its line of credit.
The new facility, which members of the community voted for in overwhelming fashion, will replace Six Lakes Country Club's 40-year-old, 16,000-square-foot clubhouse, cart barn, pro shop, sandwich shop, swimming pool and spa.
Reni Miller, resident and president of the homeowners alliance, said she is going to miss the old building, which hosted a reception afterward. On the wall were hundreds of scrawlings about the end of an era.
"I'm thrilled. We spent a lot of time planning what needed to be done for those who play poker and billiards," Miller said. "There are a lot of memories here and I'm glad people were willing to share them. It's been fun to see how it's changed over the years."
Demolition is expected to start soon, which will be a little difficult for those who live here year round. Fortunately, only about a third of the residents are full-timers.
The project is slated for completion by February 2018, but the buildings are expected to be finished in time for the new year.