Storied Ybor disco to close this weekend

Published May 23, 2007


The party's over at one of Ybor City's biggest nightclubs.

The Amphitheater - a three-story, 12, 000-square-foot discotheque with a spinning dance floor and world-class guest DJ roster - has announced it will close this weekend.

"Come be a part of history and experience one last 'Amp moment' as we let it all loose for one final blowout, " reads a post on the 1, 000-capacity club's Web site.

What the site doesn't mention is a lawsuit filed in Tampa's circuit court May 9 alleging that the club and its owner, John Santoro, owe more than $1.8-million in back mortgage and taxes. Santoro didn't return calls to his cell phone Tuesday.

"Everyone's like, 'Is it really closing?' " said Tampa promoter Paul Gamache, the Amphitheater's marketing director. "It's a big shock to the dance community, because realistically, other than the Hard Rock, we're the only place that's brought out major entertainment when it comes to dance music."

There's a big sendoff on Saturday night, and a smaller, final party scheduled for Sunday.

The Amphitheater, located at 1609 E Seventh Ave., opened in 1998, when Santoro partnered with strip club king Joe Redner to open a glittering new discotheque in the heart of Ybor.

Gamache said crowds have been down all spring, especially among college students.

The final blow appears to have been the May 9 lawsuit, in which Wachovia SBA Lending sought to foreclose.


Fourth city approves tax break for seniors

Safety Harbor's City Commission this week became the fourth local government in Pinellas County to embrace a special homestead exemption for low-income seniors.

The savings is based on low-income homeowners older than 65 being able to deduct an additional $50, 000 exemption over the $25, 000 homestead exemption.

Based on the 2006 rate, that would mean $137 in savings.

Oldsmar, Dunedin and Redington Beach also have approved the measure.


Contract approved for new city manager

A unanimous City Council approved a contract with Jennene Norman-Vacha late Monday, hiring her as the city manager.

Norman-Vacha, who worked previously as Hernando County's deputy administrator, spoke briefly, saying she looked forward to working with the council and that Brooksville had "great things to accomplish."

She said she knows that she has plenty of work waiting for her, including hiring a police chief and a human resources director.


Chief reprimanded over vehicle purchases

Police Chief Russell Barnes received a written reprimand Tuesday over an irregularity in how he purchased several police vehicles.

City Manager Steve Spina said Barnes deviated from city purchasing policies when he bought three Crown Victorias from a dealership that was not awarded the bid on the Florida Sheriff's Association state contract. Spina said the violation is part of a precedent - in February, Barnes acknowledged buying $50, 000 worth of Tasers before getting City Council approval.