Blake Casper files plans for private club with B&B at historic Stovall-Lee estate


TAMPA — Blake Casper is moving ahead with his biggest project since he created a Tampa see-and-be-seen hot spot at the Oxford Exchange.

Casper has filed rezoning and alcohol special use requests with City Hall to transform the historic Stovall-Lee House overlooking Hillsborough Bay into a private club with a five-bedroom bed and breakfast for the exclusive use of its members.

Casper, 44, the CEO of a company that owns more than 50 McDonald’s restaurants around the Tampa Bay area, and his wife Tate plan to buy the walled mansion and property at 4621 Bayshore Boulevard from retired senior Coca-Cola executive Harry Teasley Jr.

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Since floating the idea of bringing a membership-based club to the property in October, Casper has been meeting with South Tampa residents to hear their concerns, which he said usually concern traffic, parking or noise.

"We just had a neighborhood association meeting, and we’ll be having more in coming months before we go to the City Council," Casper said. "We feel good about being able to address (residents’) concerns."

A neighborhood that includes some 6,000 people, Bayshore Beautiful has seen mixed reaction to Casper’s plan.

"There are strong feelings within the neighborhood, for and against the project, with no current consensus," Bayshore Beautiful Homeowners’ Association president Chelsea Johnson said by email Tuesday. "Therefore the role of the neighborhood association is to facilitate the flow of information about the project so that residents may form their own opinions."

The Caspers "have been proactive in addressing neighborhood concerns," Johnson said, and the homeowners association is working to coordinate "future meetings to continue the discussion."

The club would be known as the Stovall House, Casper said, in recognition of the estate’s one-time owner, Wallace Stovall, the founding publisher of the Tampa Tribune. Built in 1909 by the general manager of the Florida Brewing Co. in Ybor City, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Teasley’s asking price started at $13.9 million in 2015 and since has dropped twice, most recently to just under $10 million. Neither buyer nor seller has disclosed the Caspers’ offered purchase price for the property.

Casper has said the inspirations for his plan include two prestigious social clubs in London, 5 Hertford and the Arts Club, as well as the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.

As proposed, Casper’s project would preserve the 5,000-square-foot Stovall-Lee house and demolish the existing two-story guest house, pool pavilion, spa, wine cellar and garage. The mansion’s greenhouse would be relocated to another spot on the property. The new private club would include 9,350 square feet of space, and the bed and breakfast would be 3,600 square feet.

In all, the new use for the property would include about 18,000 square feet of preserved or new construction and 80 parking spaces, versus the 8,600 square feet of space now in the mansion and its outbuildings.

The club would serve beer, wine and liquor, according to the special use alcohol application filed with the city. Casper is seeking city permission to serve alcohol on a total of 1.5 acres — inside the buildings as well as on the front lawn — of the 2.6 acre site. Outside, alcohol would be served until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until midnight Friday and Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sunday.

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Traffic access to the property would consist of one right-turn-in and right-turn-out driveway onto Bayshore Boulevard, plus one access for garbage pick up only via Coachman Avenue, according to a transportation analysis done for Casper by the Whitehouse Group of Tampa. At the peak morning hour, the property would generate an estimated 57 vehicle trips — 35 arriving, 22 leaving. The afternoon peak hour could be expected to see 113 trips, 70 of them coming in and 43 outbound.

Casper is asking the City Council to approve two variances from the city code: To reduce the number of required loading berths from two to zero and to reduce the required distance separation from residential uses for the alcohol sales from 1,000 feet to 50 feet.

A public hearing at the City Council could take place as soon as March. If approved, Casper said the club could open within two years.

Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin contributed to this report. Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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