Historic City News has learned that, in a three-way contest where the Colonial Spanish Quarter museum property was the “brass ring”, former Philadelphia 76ers President Pat Croce has been given the nod from a panel selected by the University of Florida to turn around a ship that lost money and was subsidized by City taxpayers for years.
Monday evening at the regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, Director of Business Affairs for the University of Florida, Ed Poppell, will announce the decision to the commissioners, the selection process and plans for future development.
University of Florida Historic St Augustine, Inc., the direct service organization who administers the property under a lease from its owners, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida, is moving forward with Croce.
The seven-member review panel, including four University of Florida and three City of St Augustine representatives, passed over the St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum for lack of capital; General Services Director for the City of St Augustine, Jim Piggott, said. In reaching consensus, it was decided that the Croce proposal was a better fit than the proposal from Historic Tours of America.
Even though logistics and paperwork may delay the formal approval beyond the hoped-for July 1 target date, the October 1 reopening date is still a possibility.
Croce knows a lot about pirates and their history. He founded the Pirate Soul Museum and Rum Barrel restaurant at Key West in 2005. In November 2010, on property adjoining the Spanish Quarter, he relocated the Pirate Soul Museum to the Pirate and Treasure Museum in St Augustine.