Tampa City Council rejects bid for new night club in Ybor

11/20/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Despite the worsening economy and the fact that Ybor City remains a ghost town four nights a week, the Tampa City Council today rejected a wet zoning for a new restaurant/nightclub in the heart of the historic entertainment district.

The proposed club would have been at the corner of 7th Avenue and 17th Street.

Joseph Diaz was speaking for the property’s owner, Sussex Holdings. The building in question has been vacant for nearly three years. Diaz said in that time there has been no interest from any perspective business to open up a retail store or a restaurant in his price location.

But the idea got no support from the local Ybor City business community.

Tony LaColla is president of the Historic Ybor City Neighborhood Civic Association. He said a vision plan by the Council written three years ago argued for fewer wet zonings and more mixed use applications. He said there will always be nightclubs in Ybor, but there are simply too many of them.

Ellen Snelling with the Tampa Alcohol Coalition said Seventh Avenue is very dense with bars and clubs.

Eric Schiller runs Gasper’s Grotto on 7th Avenue. He boldly said that if the applicant, Double O Entertainment, got the wet zoning, there would be a 90 percent chance they wouldn’t last a year.

But Jim Jacob , the agent for Sussex, the property owner, said if he could get somebody to purchase the property and not use it for a nightclub, he would.

A more nuanced reaction came from Tom Keating, president of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. He said he understood the neighborhood concerns about another nightclub, but said it might be a bad sign to the business community to reject the proposal.

Council members Linda Saul-Sena and John Dingfelder both said another nightclub would be incongruent with their vision plan created three years ago.

The Council then rejected the proposal unanimously.

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