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Jannus Landing on the verge of a new operator and a new start

ST. PETERSBURG — Jannus Landing is on the verge of getting a new operator and, maybe, new life.

"We're finalizing negotiations to lease the properties to a new operator," said the property owner's attorney, Jonathan Damonte.

That means the end of John C. "Jack" Bodziak's troubled tenure as operator of one of Tampa Bay's most popular — but lately empty — concert venues.

"I've had a great 12 years owning and operating Jannus Landing," said Bodziak, 37. "I hope the public appreciates the thousands of shows that I brought to downtown St. Pete the last decade."

Jeff Knight, 47, owner of Knight Enterprises, is poised to take over the downtown landmark and surrounding bars, Damonte said.

Jannus Landing and its surrounding properties are owned by St. Pete Jannus Inc. Tony Amico is the majority owner and Bodziak the minority owner. In July, Amico sued to evict Bodziak for failing to pay $160,000 in back rent. Bodziak was set to fight the eviction in front of a judge this week. But then a whirlwind settlement ended the case on Oct. 23.

Knight bought out Bodziak's minority stake in St. Pete Jannus for an undisclosed amount. Knight is the new minority partner.

Amico also reached an undisclosed settlement with Bodziak, Damonte said, ending the eviction case.

Bodziak not only promoted concerts at Jannus Landing but also ran these downtown businesses: Detroit Liquors and Fine Wines, the Tamiami Bar and the Pelican Pub. But as Bodziak's legal woes piled up this summer, Jannus Landing's concert business slowed to a crawl.

Bodziak was charged in May with grand theft by state investigators who accused him of defrauding Florida out of $250,000 in sales taxes. Bodziak could face up to 30 years in prison but said he's working with the state to resolve the case.

"I'm definitely paying them back," he said. "I'm going to do everything that I can to cooperate with the state of Florida."

Bodziak said he hopes to continue promoting concerts, including at Jannus Landing.

Knight told the Times last week that he envisions a new Jannus Landing taking the place of the old one: a new stage with a new roof; better sound and lighting; increasing capacity by 500 to 2,000; adding a tiki bar, new bathrooms and VIP suites; renovating Detroit Liquors and replacing the Tamiami Bar with a high-end sushi joint.

Knight did not return calls Thursday for comment. The attorney for Amico said his client did not wish to comment.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Jannus Landing on the verge of a new operator and a new start 10/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 11:01am]
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