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Nightclub plans get makeover

The new design scraps the massive steel beams that turned off critics of the project.

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 15, 2002


TAMPA -- The owner of a proposed Ybor City nightclub complex agreed Thursday to drop the project's most disliked feature: massive steel beams that would have looked like legs on a spider.

The decision stopped the Tampa City Council from voting on the issue Thursday and scuttled an attempt to force more changes to the complex on Seventh Avenue.

"I am numb. I am numb after this," said Marilyn Mancuso Weekley, who opposes the building's design. She stood trembling outside City Council chambers after the meeting ended.

"I don't understand why he has to fight the citizens of Tampa -- and force this down their throats," she said.

Weekley and City Council members want the owner of the $20-million complex to undo its modern design, which they say doesn't fit with Ybor's historic look.

But City Attorney Jim Palermo told the council it couldn't review a decision to approve the modern-looking complex. The Barrio Latino Commission, which oversees architectural plans in Ybor City, approved the designs in December.

The city government, which owns a parking lot near the complex, appealed the approval to the City Council. But the city's appeal dealt only with the steel beam structures, not the building's overall design.

Since the owner agreed to drop the steal beams, the council can't try to undo the entire design, Palermo said.

"It's the concept of taking a second bite at the apple," said Kenneth P. Kroger, the complex's architect who plans to begin construction before summer.

"To me, public opinion isn't always the highest standard," Kroger said after the meeting.

The new design, without the steel beams, must still be approved by the Barrio Latino Commission.

City Council member Linda Saul-Sena urged city lawyers to interpret city codes to allow the Barrio Latino Commission to look at the larger design. By changing one feature of the design, the owner opened the door to re-evaluating the entire look of the complex, she said.

"All the components of a design are integral to each other," Saul-Sena said. "I believe when you change one element of the design ... it is best to go to square one."

-- Times Staff Writer David Karp is at 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com.

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