The Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA realized a dream more than two years in the making tonight when the Dunedin City Commission unanimously approved the organization’s Development Agreement outlining comprehensive renovations of the historic Fenway property located at 453 Edgewater Drive. The Society plans to create an international destination with lodging accommodations for participants visiting for instruction, conferences, festivals and religious celebrations. The national headquarters, currently located in Tallahassee, FL, will relocate to Dunedin over the next two years.
“We are simply thrilled,” said Pegoty Lopez Packman, a retired Pinellas County middle school principal and Clearwater resident who serves in the volunteer capacity as President of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA. “We are quite anxious to get in and move forward on the renovations and restorations that will make the Fenway come alive again.”
Packman had the original idea to acquire the Fenway some years ago while biking along Edgewater Drive.
“We had been considering many possible locations in this region for an international center. I rode by the Fenway – as I had done for years – and one day it just became clear to me. We needed to look into the Fenway,” Packman said.
Highlights of the approved restoration include rehabilitation of the main Fenway building, which has been empty since 2002 but over the years has served as a hotel, a private club, and two different educational institutions; and renovations to the additional buildings on the 5.2-acre waterfront site. Additional off-street parking spaces will be added.
“The spirit of cooperation demonstrated by Dunedin’s elected officials and staff has been exceptional,” said Sean Dennison, national executive director for the Society. “We were able to come to consensus very quickly on all of our plans. We extend our deepest appreciation to everyone involved in this process – including all the citizens of Dunedin and particularly our new neighbors who live adjacent to the property – for their interest and support over these last nine months.”
The Society will maintain the historic architecture that has been the Fenway’s hallmark for almost a century. The main building will remain intact, and will include meeting facilities that can be used for community gatherings and other public activities. The approved renovations contained in the Development Agreement will be completed within two years.
Earlier plans to construct townhomes on the east end of the property have been shelved in response to citizen concern and so that the Society can focus on the completion of the national headquarters and international meeting center.
In June 2014, the Society announced that it had completed the purchase of the historic Fenway site, clearing the way for the Society to move forward with plans to restore the property and locate its national headquarters there. Shortly after, the Society paid more than $100,000 in penalties owed on the property for code violations that had long gone overlooked by previous owners. In December 2014, the Society hosted more than a hundred Dunedin residents for a community forum and question and answer session, addressing topics ranging from landscaping to traffic to crime.
A respected member of the Dunedin community since 2004, the Taoist Tai Chi Society began offering health-benefiting programs at Dunedin’s Hale Senior Activity Center. After a period of membership growth, it moved in 2010 to a full-time facility at 1370 Main Street. The Fenway location will continue to serve local residents who now use the Main Street facility, which the Society plans to sell.
About the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA, Inc.
The Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA is a charitable, religious organization dedicated to making the Taoist arts of health and longevity available to all. Incorporated in 1989, the Society currently serves 6,000 participants in the United States. It is also a part of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society, a global volunteer organization with more than 500 locations in 26 countries. For more information about the Society, please visit www.taoist.org.