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Old theater may live anew as private club

Wet zoning is sought for the Rialto, which is to become Print.

By ALEXANDRA ZAYAS Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007


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TAMPA HEIGHTS

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.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 226-3354 or azayas@sptimes.com.

 

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.

 

[Last modified September 6, 2007, 08:40:44]


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