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Downtown YMCA Building Becoming Rock n Roll Museum?

If the promoters are not successful in their fundraising effort, the downtown YMCA building faces demolition.

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?

If you're looking to make a donation, business investment or sponsorship for the St. Petersburg Rock and Roll Museum you can email Nestor directly at nofoesent@cs.com or visit HistoricYMCA.com

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. 

Carlos E. Odell,P.E. October 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
The building has got some serious structural problems. Carlos E. Odsell,PE
Elise Caplan October 26, 2012 at 03:22 PM
This idea is fine for now in rescueing an historic old remnant of downtown St Pete. but I don't see why the St Pete Preservation Society and the City haven't worked hard and harder to preserve and find tenants. I dont care about structural damage. There needs to be a plan to keep all old building and a plan to keep all downtown Banyan trees. As far as I am concerned Publix could have been wooed for a Greenwise Market in the YMCA or say a sustainable sportswear manufacturer like a Patagonia Store or a Crate & Barrel.
Elise Caplan October 26, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Still Carlos, Wouldn't the integrity and beauty of this small city be lost without our standout great looker buildings. Not to mention that we need more creative ways to save the old buildings and create jobs lets say by wooeing a CB2 (Crate & Barrels lesser line) or a Publix Greenwise?
Gwen Thomas October 26, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Part of what makes St Petersburg the envy of other cities, are the historical buildings. Its a shame to see buildings like the YMCA near demolition, as another Sam's club is being built not far away. This kind of demo and construction leads to a cold concrete jungle of a city. I hope the Y can be saved!
Thomas Nestor October 27, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Carlos...why do you say such things? I have the structural engineers report if you would like a copy. TJN
Thomas Nestor October 27, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Working non-stop on this Gwen...if I didn't need at least 6 hours of sleep each night I would forgo it right now. Thanks for your support!
Ryan Connolly November 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I had the opportunity to visit here and get some pictures last year. Very cool place. http://www.flickr.com/photos/57504763@N03/sets/72157625866241947/
BW May 27, 2013 at 06:06 AM
this building is incredible. a friend of mine went to spain and when she brought back pictures i said 'that looks like the st pete Y!' also hope the museum blasts Ray Charles "St Pete Florida Blues" at least every half hour
Thomas Nestor May 27, 2013 at 05:46 PM
The Music Mansion (newer title we are currently considering) will most definitely highlight the late great Ray Charles....also all the rich creative and artistic history of this town from how it was founded and named, to Al Capone's (two homes here) Jim Morrison's rumored rendezvous with his girlfriend in one of the towers at St. Pete High to Jack Kerouac's tragic passing at St. Anthony's Hospital...new and up coming artists in St. Petersburg will also be highlighted with the museum tours as well as the venue's operations and it's soon to be historic renovations and our teams desires to assist new music and creative artists careers now - all under one roof at The Place That St. Pete Built
Johann May 27, 2013 at 11:27 PM
What a fantastic idea. I remember the Y fondly (4th gen native) growing up. I remember all the rooms. If it became a music venue/museum, have you considered naming some of the rooms to honor the origins of St. Pete music venues & bands? ie: The "ACL" room, the "Big Apple" room, etc? I'll make a donation on the website. Thank you for your passion, Mr. Nestor!
Thomas Nestor May 28, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Ah...The ACL! one of the first places my band ever played...and what about LA Oscars on the rooftop of The Awesome Snell Arcade....Big Apple? is that what was in the old Patio Theatre @ 1850 Central??? Papa's Dream??? Thank you for the positive thoughts Johann. A multi-faceted music and special event venue is very much needed here. The bonus is the beauty and ambiance of The Historic YMCA Building.
Johann May 28, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Big Apple Bistro was just west of Grand Central, across 34th. Deloris Telescope, Red Tape, J.G. Lyon, etc. I'm sure I've seen your band.

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