NEW TAMPA - As Vicki Castro stood near the entrance of the recently renovated Beach Club at Cory Lake Isles and looked around, she marveled at the transformation of the building, which is more than 21 years old.
"It used to look like a not-so-nice banquet hall," said Castro, vice chairwoman of Cory Lake Isles Community Development District.
Mylitta Butler, a Cory Lake Isles resident and owner/interior designer of Blue Waters Decor, agreed.
"Some residents were actually embarrassed to have people here," Butler said.
But the negative attitude about the community's clubhouse, they now believe, is a thing of the past.
With the CDD's pre-approved budget of $91,000, Butler and her project partner, Tom Rogers of Tom's Installation & Repair, performed a complete interior overhaul to the building in a span of just eight weeks.
The kitchen and bathrooms were gutted and replaced with new appliances and fixtures, granite countertops and tile floors.
An outdated bar front was outfitted with vertical mosaic tiles meant to resemble bamboo. The same tile look was used to add a touch of flair to each bathroom's freshly painted walls.
Crown molding was installed on the walls in the main gathering area where those same walls, columns and ceiling beams were repainted to better reflect today's trends. Rogers even installed new parquet floors that contain rubberized backing to muffle noise.
To filter out bright rays of the sun, Butler used 3-M film to photograph a sky scene above Cory Lake. She had it enlarged and placed at the top of the floor-to-ceiling windows directly facing Cory Lake, just steps from the facility.
A kids' corner also was added, complete with a wooden bench built by Rogers that can double as a place to house books and other children's items by simply lifting the seat.
New groupings of furniture, including oversized sofas and chairs, replaced the clubhouse's sparse furnishings that were donated the New Beginnings Thrift Store.
Butler's assistant, Barbara Love, also a Cory Lake resident, said end result was exactly what they'd envisioned.
"It's nautical, Bohemian-sheik with a tropical flair," she said.
Residents celebrated the makeover with a grand re-opening of the building on June 1.
"Our wonderful residents needed a place to come and enjoy the beautiful scenery," said David Burman, former Cory Lake Isles CDD chairman.
Rich Carpenter, chairman of the CDD's landscape, aqua-scape and facility committee, called the results of the renovation project "outstanding."
"For two years this was at the top of our agenda," he said. "We wanted it to feel like an extension of your home, a place you can come to relax or if you want to play cards or have a chess game."
Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione was on hand for the site's June 5 ribbon cutting.
"This place is a now a reflection of the homey feel you get when you come through the gate into this community," she said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.