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Teens losing concert hot spot
A bank had loaned a vacant Krispy Kreme to a church, but now wants to build there.
By BILL COATS, Times Staff Writer
Published December 7, 2007
Trevor Kuchaes, 16, and Marie Jordan, 17, pink shirt, sing along with the Fusion Worship Band who were playing during a 'soft' opening in July for "the Kreme," a night club for teens in New Tampa.
[Kathleen Flynn | Times]
[Kathleen Flynn | Times]
Colonial Bank, which had loaned the property to a church for weekly music fests, decided it needs the flexibility in the new year to tear down the building for a new branch bank.
NEW TAMPA -- The short history of "the Kreme" will follow the pattern of a holy miracle: a stunning episode of goodness, then a return to normalcy, leaving a glow among the faithful.
But on Thursday, the news was somber. A vacated Krispy Kreme doughnut shop off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, converted in July into a teen concert hall, must be emptied again. Colonial Bank, which had loaned the property to a church for weekly music fests, decided it needs the flexibility in the new year to tear down the building for a new branch bank.
Youth leaders at St. James United Methodist Church are determined to find a similar home to continue their Friday-night "Fusion" parties. They said the Kreme arrangement was too successful to abandon, attracting 200 to 300 high schoolers every time the music revved up.
"We've set a heck of precedent," said Eric Crawford, the church's interim youth pastor. "We've had literally thousands of kids come through our door."
"We have a proven ministry model that God has allowed us to stumble on," said David Smith, Crawford's predecessor, who launched the first Kreme concert in July.
The Kreme, as the church leaders called it, confirmed a bittersweet hunch. Hordes of teenagers would gather repeatedly to hear music and Christian wisdom in a "cool" location, but not in a church. Attendance at Fusion doubled when the Methodists moved it from their campus to the Kreme.
The move was the brainchild of Gary Brosch, a church member whose daughter, Jessie, books bands for Fusion. For a year, the Krispy Kreme had stood empty next to the parking lot of a Muvico theater, already a hangout for teens from New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.
Colonial Bank paid $1.89-million for the property 14 months ago. Brosch called Colonial's regional office and obtained a nearly free lease. Other barriers, such as permits and zoning, fell aside so quickly that Brosch called it "A God thing."
The teens partied, yet behaved.
"We had one little scrap that lasted about four seconds eight to 10 weeks ago, and that's been it," Smith said. "We've been incredibly blessed not to have any negative episodes."
On Thursday, planners at Colonial met to crystallize their 2008 building priorities. Dan Jenkins, a Tampa-based official in charge of site procurement, said the bank plans to open a branch on the property before 2010, and needed the flexibility to demolish the building next year.
So the Kreme's final Friday of glory will come next week, Dec. 14. Fusion will feature bands from Orlando, Daytona Beach, Seffner and Spring Hill, plus free food, Crawford said.
There are no hard feelings toward Colonial.
"They've been unbelievably generous," Smith said. "They've defied our expectations at every turn."
In January, Fusion will move back to the St. James campus while its leaders look for another hot location along Bruce B. Downs. They know a permanent spot would be cost-prohibitive unless a benefactor steps forward. But they're considering partnerships with other churches or creation of a nonprofit corporation.
"We're still in the praying, hoping, searching phase," Crawford said.