Beer Can Island, Pine Key Florida for Sale, Closed to Public

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A party venue with a difference in Florida’s Tampa Bay is up for sale for $14.2 million.

Pine Key is an island in the middle of Tampa Bay, created by a state dredging project. It stretches some 69 acres, though only nine of these are above water, and boasts photogenic white beaches and surrounding blue waters.

It is commonly known as ‘Beer Can Island’ for the beer cans left behind by boaters but it has been transformed into one of Florida’s party hot spots in the last seven years.

It was purchased by four entrepreneurial friends in 2017 for $63,650.

Russell Loomis, 46, who was one of the visionary quartet, said in an interview with The Times of London: “We’ve worked our tails off for the last six years on this project, and we’re just ready to pass the torch to the next person.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Loomis has a business background in tech apps and running a debt relief company. In 2017, he built a floating tiki bar with friends from 258 plastic barrels. Finding a parking spot for their floating watering hole drew them to Pine Key.

“It’s been an extremely fun time, but it’s come with a lot of challenges. We didn’t know when we bought it what we were getting into.”

When they purchased the island, which already had a reputation as an unofficial party spot for locals, it lacked facilities or utilities, and its owners seemed quite glad to be rid of it.

But in the years since, after hauling in food and alcohol supplies, fixing up toilets, picnic tables, and a 120ft inflatable slide, the once defunct island has become a hub for boaters seeking to let their hair down.

“Running an island is different to running a regular business. There’s a whole new learning curve,” Loomis said.

“If you run a bar on the mainland, a truck shows up with all the inventory, and they come in and stock the shelves; with the island, you physically go shopping, load it into vans, off the vans into a boat, off the boat onto wherever it’s going on the island.

“The logistics are the most difficult,” Loomis said.

Nonetheless, Loomis, Cole Weaver, James Wester, and John Gadd, having invested $5 million in the project, have turned the island into a hot spot for party-goers. They’ve even hosted weddings and music events, selling up to 3,000 concert tickets a time.

Others weren’t so keen on the friends’ business plan

While many enjoyed the friends’ decision to pimp out the island, some were less sure.

“A core group of people thought it was their island and didn’t understand that before we bought it, it was actually privately owned, and they were trespassers — the owner just didn’t enforce it, so they felt entitled. We opened it up and created facilities and entertainment,” Loomis said.

In an attempt to placate some locals, Weaver spent 100 days living on the island, building relationships with the boating community and reassuring them that they could still come to the island when they wished.

Weaver, an estate agent and architectural engineer, decided to keep most of the island open to anyone who wished to step ashore but sectioned off some of it for fee-paying “members only.”

Local authorities also kicked up a fuss, saying that the island ought to be used as a nature reserve rather than for parties. Manatees reside near the island, seeking comfort in the warm waters during the winter. Weaver, though, believes the only wildlife that lives on the island are seagulls and a rat that pestered him during his stay, per The Times.

New owner

The island will be auctioned off as an NFT for cryptocurrency, though cash offers will also be accepted, Fox reports. The auction began in early March and will end on April 1, 2024.

The highest bidder will be the new island owner. However, the unique property does come with specific problems. Last year, it was submerged under five feet of water during Hurricane Idalia, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“We’ve had so much interest and many, many phone calls, from developers who want to build homes to people who want to continue doing what we’re doing,” Weaver told The Times.

“It was a fun time … it was a good time. It’s not every day you wake up to your own island,” he said.

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