Monday, September 10, 2007

Also on Franklin ave...

SP Times: Old theater may live anew as private club


For more than three decades, it was a machinery factory. For the past year and a half, it has sat empty.

But the Rialto theater, built in 1926, may soon come alive. A group of Clearwater investors has a vision: a private members-only lounge and entertainment venue called Print.

Mark Smith, John Schaible and Josef Schaible filed a wet-zoning application with the city on Aug. 13 but declined an interview with the Times, saying the property is still under negotiation.

But the wet-zoning application offers some insight. Investors want to buy the Rialto and adjacent buildings - a span from 1613 to 1631 N Franklin St. - for $1.7-million and renovate them for $1.3-million.

They'll operate Print in the 10,000-square-foot theater space, the application says. Memberships will include "individual male and female, couples and corporate." The concept will "create an environment of like-minded people for the purpose of business networking and personal entertainment."

It's not clear what type of entertainment Print will offer, but the lounge will have public, private and semiprivate spaces; a fully operational stage for live performances and corporate presentations; a mezzanine with private rooms and public catwalks; and a rooftop deck, the application says.

The club is projected to operate Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. as a bottle service bar, where members who do not finish their bottles can store them for their next visit.

The entertainment venue will be rented to members and the public Sundays through Wednesdays.

The other buildings, with 20,000 square feet, will be converted into a 100-car indoor valet parking garage.

"The renovation of the Rialto theater and its adjacent buildings will be a much-needed face-lift for the neighborhood, breathing life and vitality into a space that has long been ignored," the application says. "Print will serve as an anchor for future business development and expansion in the neighborhood by introducing elite clientele to the area."

The Tampa Heights Civic Association has not taken an official position for or against Print, but members will discuss the project at their board meeting next week.

The wet-zoning application is scheduled to go before the City Council on Oct. 18.

Fast facts

Zoning request

The City Council will hear the wet-zoning application for Print, a proposed private club, during a meeting Oct. 18 in the council chambers, City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.

Herman Massey Park to re-open....eventually

This park was closed so that the developers of the Residences of Franklin could use it as a stagging area...I wonder how much the city received in fees for this?

St Pete Times: Residents and business owners will soon have their say in redesigning a downtown park mired in controversy when the city closed it two years ago.

Herman Massey Park shut down in August 2005 so that contractors for the Residences of Franklin Street condominiums could use it as a staging area for equipment.

Just before it went offline, Massey Park made news when police arrested several people there for feeding the homeless. Officers charged them with violating a city ordinance that prohibited serving food without a permit.

A chain link fence soon went up as developers began work on the Residences of Franklin Street, displacing homeless people who regularly used the park.

As construction wrapped up on the condo tower, equipment went away and residents moved in.

But the public park, at N Franklin and E Tyler streets, remained closed.

The first steps in reopening Massey Park should begin this month, said Linda Carlo, spokeswoman for Tampa's Parks and Recreation Department.

The city will assess the park and take inventory of what's there.

A meeting will then take place with "stakeholders," Carlo said - nearby residents and business owners.

"We will go to the public and say, here's what we know about the park," Carlo said. "Then we'll ask, what are you thinking?' What do you need?What are your desires for the park?'"

Carlo said the city plans to design several concepts for the park based on public opinion, which parks officials plan to solicit in coming weeks.

The city is trying to figure out a convenient time and place to hold a public meeting, which she expects about 30 to 40 people to attend.

Carlo said it's too early in the planning process to say when Massey Park will officially reopen.

Mayor Pam Iorio announced last month that the city will spend $1-million on the renovations.