The historic 1926 downtown YMCA building has sat vacant since 1999. Now, on the verge of demolition, a local promoter is trying to turn the empty building into a music museum and venue — The St. Petersburg Rock and Roll Museum.
Thomas Nestor, president and CEO of Nofoes Productions/Media Group, described his vision for the rock museum/venue in an interview with Patch.
"It's going to be a daily music museum that preserves the history of what’s taken place in the Tampa Bay area," he said. "All the way from Al Capone to Jim Morrison, there is some much rich culture in this area. Even 'Satisfaction' from the (Rolling) Stones was written in Clearwater.
"We want to encapsulate that," Nestor added. "We don’t want it to be a dead museum, it's digital, interactive and going to be educational as well. During the day the main use of the facility is the museum. Up stairs, there will be a musical school, maybe a studio and even musical therapy."
Like many good things, there is catch. A big catch. Nestor and his group need money and they need it fast. Nestor says the future of the YMCA building, located on the corner of 5th Street South and 2nd Avenue South, is in your hands.
On Oct. 2 Nestor and his group signed an agreement for the building with the first down payment due in November, $20,000. A closing date is set for June 2013, which during that time Nestor said the group needs to raise $1.4 million.
Should Nestor and co. not fundraise $20,000 by Nov. 15, the historic building faces demolition.
During the Oct. 18 city council meeting, a rep for St. Petersburg Preservation said a request for demolition has been submitted for the building and will be reviewed on Nov. 16.
"If we don't come up with the money for the down payment," Nestor said, "the bank will demo it." He said a bank has a chash offer on the property and wants to demolish it to build a new bank.
In the museum proposal Nestor sent to city council, he said the mission is to turn the downtown YMCA into a community-gathering place celebrating the area's music and culture.
"To preserve, archive, and honor the rich Music & Film History and Famous Pop Culture that has enriched “The Sunshine City” and Tampa Bay Area over the past century, plus assist promoting, producing and progressing the current local creative music & film community by converting The Historic YMCA Building into a dynamic Interactive Museum, Concert & Special Event Venue, Grand Multi-Media/Cultural Center."
Nestor said if renovated, there would not be another music venue in the Tampa Bay area like the St. Pete Rock and Roll Museum. The venue, which Nestor said would hold around 2,500 people, will by a GA-style venue with no fixed stage. Being able move the stage allows for greater use, Nestor said.
Other mid-sized venues such as the Mahaffey Theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Straz Center, Nestor said, are more performing arts venues.
"Those are performance theaters in my eyes. They are seated, lush, VIP kind of things (for) theaters, plays and big productions. Nobody has filed this niche in the market for an (indoor) GA concert venue," Nestor said. "I want to build Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but for music and this is the building to do that."
How you can help?
Since the building is designated as historic, Nestor said his group would also look for local, state and federal grants to help reach their goal.