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Construction starts for a new middle school, YMCA in St. Petersburg

Jun 7, 2022

Libby Hendren

Pinellas County Schools and the YMCA teamed up to create a public-private partnership on the site of the former Riviera Middle School.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's the first step in the last leg of a journey to create a new school with a new YMCA in St. Petersburg.

Pinellas County leaders were part of a groundbreaking Tuesday for the public-private partnership on the 19 acres that used to be the Riviera Middle School on 62nd Avenue North. That’s near the Mangrove Bay Golf Course.

The project will be 111,757 square feet across two stories.

Riviera Middle closed in 2008 during the recession, but now things are full circle. The area's population is booming, and there's a need for a new middle school. It's going to be a health and wellness leadership magnet school for 600 students.

“Healthy communities are more vibrant communities and with this school's focus on health and wellness curriculum, we will further strengthen that impact for generations to come. The addition of the YMCA will also fill a void that has been long overdue on the north side of St. Petersburg,” St. Petersburg City Council Member Brandi Gabbard said.

Outgoing Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Grego says both the district and the YMCA needed to work together to make it happen because it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

“The days should be gone where everybody has to do something separate. It’s so much more cost-effective. This partnership is the right thing. This partnership in this building will be the right thing for the community because it will be a shared community,” Grego said. “This school and the Y will be the hub of this community. Mark my word and it will be the gem of this community.”

This is the second school-Y combination in the state of Florida. This Y will be named the Speer YMCA in honor of Roy Speer. He created the Speer Foundation after making his fortune from co-founding the Home Shopping Network. The Y is expected to open later next year and the school in the fall of 2024. The school has not been named yet.

Since 2015, the district has spent about $750 million on renovations for schools like Melrose Elementary, Tyrone Middle, St. Petersburg High School and has created new wings for schools like Shore Acres Elementary.

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