Saturday, September 22, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Historic Stovall House headed toward conversion to private club serving alcohol

The Stovall House is one step closer to serving booze and putting up overnight guests now that the Tampa City Council has given a first nod to transforming the historic Bayshore Boulevard estate into a private club.

The decision came around 1 a.m. Friday after more than six hours of often emotional input from an overflow crowd of South Tampa residents.

The council voted 4-2 to approve a rezoning request and a special-use alcohol permit for the 2.6 acre property, anchored by a home listed on the National Register of Historic places.

A final vote is scheduled Sept. 20.

Council members Mike Suarez and Charlie Miranda voted against the measures. Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin was absent for health reasons.

Nearly 60 people, roughly divided between supporters and opponents, spoke before the council. At least a dozen said they were attorneys. Legal terms like "bootstrapping" and "legerdemain" peppered the testimony.

Many more people watched from the packed council chamber. When the hearing began about 6:30 p.m., Chairman Frank Reddick said 78 people were waiting downstairs to speak.

Supporters said the club would be a calling card for Tampa, a  way to attract top talent to the city.

They praised developer Blake Casper, founder of the Oxford Exchange, as a visionary who is helping Tampa create a new image as an elite city.

"It is an oasis that is clearly in a residential setting, but also claims Bayshore Boulevard as its front door," said Nancy Walker, who called the club a good fit for her neighborhood. "It's what makes South Tampa South Tampa."

Opponents cast themselves as people with a deep stake in the decision as nearby residents who want to see their quiet streets remain free of the noise, traffic and, possibly, intoxicated drivers.

"Keep our children safe! He forgot that part," said an emotional Kurt Kumagai, president of Keep Bayshore Beautiful, a group formed to fight Casper's project. Kumagai banged his fist on the podium.

The public scrap had been in the making for months, ever since Casper paid $9.5 million in March for the property at 4621 Bayshore Blvd. Waged on social media and in the streets, it pit neighbor against neighbor.

The two sides wore t-shirts with dueling messages. For the most part, tempers remained in check.

Some speakers borrowed lines from mob films.

Casper referenced The Godfather in describing a conversation with one opponent. Another supporter said he had been called a rat after posting positive comments in the neighborhood's Nextdoor social media group.

A nearby property owner, Dennis LeVine, said he was concerned about actual rats that might be attracted to dumpsters the club would require.

Casper said he wanted to do something special on the property but that if his proposal were rejected, he would put the property up for sale.

"We will protect the neighbors' peace and privacy," he said, while creating a "social club like no other."

Some supporters have raised the specter of high-rise condo on the parcel if Casper's plan were rejected, but city staff members said current land-use rules prohibit that.

Casper's attorney Truett Gardner said under questioning that he couldn't predict exactly how many members the club would have, saying only that Casper planned to limit membership so it wouldn't become crowded.

Before the vote, council member Miranda counseled the crowd to accept the decision and not let bad blood linger on the streets of the neighborhood known as Bayshore Beautiful.

"You live there," Miranda said. "I want you to be friendly with each other."

Comments
‘Strippers, Cigars and Gasparilla’: Topher Morrison wants to rebrand Tampa

‘Strippers, Cigars and Gasparilla’: Topher Morrison wants to rebrand Tampa

No one can accuse Topher Morrison of not having ideas.The branding consultant turned political candidate has lots of them. Make Tampa known for its rooftop scene? Yes, and: hold a contest to see who can build an elevator that wraps around a building ...
Published: 09/21/18
Hillsborough commission candidates still dancing on sales tax for transportation

Hillsborough commission candidates still dancing on sales tax for transportation

In a Seminole Heights forum last week, only one of four county commission candidates, Kimberly Overman, responded directly to a question about whether they back a proposal for a one-cent sales tax increase for transportation improvements – she'...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas commission candidate Amy Kedron loses support from council member and commissioner

Pinellas commission candidate Amy Kedron loses support from council member and commissioner

Pinellas County Commission candidate Amy Kedron has lost a key endorsement from one of the few elected officials who publicly supported her campaign.St. Petersburg City Council member Gina Driscoll said she pulled her endorsement after Kedron told th...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/21/18
Capin on Buckhorn and Ulele: ‘If it was his bust, he’d light it up.’

Capin on Buckhorn and Ulele: ‘If it was his bust, he’d light it up.’

Tampa City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin blasted Mayor Bob Buckhorn for his administration's decision to remove a bronze bust of Ulele, a mythical Indian princess, from the city's Riverwalk this week.Capin, who has clashed with the mayor over the...
Published: 09/20/18
Tampa City Council approves liquour and rezoning for Stovall House making it private club

Tampa City Council approves liquour and rezoning for Stovall House making it private club

It took nearly 13 hours over three weeks, but developer Blake Casper won City Council approval to convert the historic Stovall House on Bayshore Boulevard to a private club.On Thursday, council members listened to nearly six hours of testimony on the...
Published: 09/20/18
Buckhorn says Tampa City Council playing politics with budget

Buckhorn says Tampa City Council playing politics with budget

Mayor Bob Buckhorn's hot take from watching Monday's City Council budget hearing?"I think, unfortunately, reality met election year politics," said the mayor on Tuesday.The City Council voted unanimously to delay final approval of the city's more tha...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
DeSantis’s school visit is “not a campaign stop,” Hillsborough district says

DeSantis’s school visit is “not a campaign stop,” Hillsborough district says

Social media this morning was abuzz with questions about gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis's planned 2 p.m. visit to Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a public middle school in Hillsborough County.Educators are asking: Wouldn't this be a violatio...
Published: 09/18/18
Bronze bust of Princess Ulele hauled away before dawn from Tampa Riverwalk

Bronze bust of Princess Ulele hauled away before dawn from Tampa Riverwalk

TAMPA — With only a moving crew as witnesses, an 1,800 pound bronze bust of Native American Princess Ulele was hoisted up and hauled away before dawn Tuesday under orders from the city of Tampa.The sculpture was installed in December on ci...
Published: 09/18/18
Tampa City Council rejects Buckhorn budget over health care costs

Tampa City Council rejects Buckhorn budget over health care costs

TAMPA — The city's $1 billion-plus city budget was put on hold Monday evening by a City Council determined to strike a better deal for Tampa employees on health care costs.After a sometimes tense 2 ½ hour hearing, the City Council delayed ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Pinellas commission will let St. Petersburg use some tax dollars to develop Trop site

Pinellas commission will let St. Petersburg use some tax dollars to develop Trop site

The Pinellas County Commission agreed last week to let St. Petersburg direct about $115 million in tax dollars to help redevelop 86 acres around Tropicana Field, regardless if the Rays move to Tampa or not.With a 5-1 vote, the commission approved May...
Published: 09/17/18