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Jannus Landing owners sue to evict troubled concert operator Bodziac and his businesses

ST. PETERSBURG — So far Jannus Landing operator Jack Bodziak has kept the popular outdoor concert venue and his downtown bars open despite all the people who say he owes them money.

The state of Florida says he owes $250,000 in sales tax and arrested him in May. A developer is suing over a defaulted $295,000 loan and wants Bodziak's liquor license. A Lakeland man is even suing because he said a cymbal hit him at a concert.

But there's one legal proceeding that threatens to shut down Bodziak for good: eviction.

The owner of Jannus Landing is suing to evict Bodziak's downtown businesses — the concert venue, his bars and his liquor store — because he owes $161,209 in back rent.

That's according to eviction complaints filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court court this month by St. Pete Jannus Inc. That's the entity that owns the properties where Bodziak has been operating his concerts, bars and liquor store. The owner is seeking rent and damages.

Bodziak's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on Thursday, according to court records. Bodziak did not return calls for comment Friday, but that legal move could signal that he intends to fight eviction proceedings.

But unless he pays his rent, the owner's attorney said, the outcome is not in doubt.

"If they don't pay," said Largo attorney Jonathan Damonte, "ultimately we're going to evict them and take the property back."

If Bodziak contests the eviction, Damonte said, the legal process could drag on for months.

So what does that mean for Jannus Landing's future as one of Tampa Bay's most popular concert destinations? That's unclear.

Sugar Ray is scheduled to play the venue Aug. 16, and concerts are lined up through October. But so far, nothing is scheduled after the KMFDM concert set for Oct. 31.

Anthony Amico, a principal owner of St. Pete Jannus, did not return a message for comment. Damonte said he doesn't know what Jannus Landings' owners plan to do with the venue if Bodziak is removed from the picture.

Jon La Budde owns the Reno Beach Surf Shop and knows all the players in the saga. He doesn't see concerts ever disappearing from Jannus Landing, no matter who ends up running the venue.

"I know that Mr. Amico … has been very kind to Jack and very understanding of the position he's in," La Budde said. "I think things can be worked out. I don't think the venue's going to go away.

"Jack is going to figure out a way to get it done."

He added that Bodziak recently took on new partners to help out with his troubled businesses.

Court records break down how much back rent the owners said Bodziak owes for each business:

• The Hotel Detroit Courtyard (the actual concert venue) owes $61,750.

• The Green Room/Tamiami Bar owes $52,087.

• Detroit Liquors owes $39,950.

• The Pelican Pub owes $7,421.

Meanwhile the criminal case against Bodziak continues.

He faces a charge of grand theft stemming from allegations that he falsified state tax records, under-reported taxable revenue and in some instances failed to report any of the income he made off Jannus Landing concerts.

He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Times researcher Will Gorham and staff writer Jay Cridlin contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

To read previous coverage of Jannus Landing's troubles, go to links.tampabay.com

Jannus Landing owners sue to evict troubled concert operator Bodziac and his businesses 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 10:25pm]
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