ST. PETERSBURG — Despite an initial $2 million investment and a location offering views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Vue 19 nightclub on the 19th floor of One Progress Plaza has closed. Vue Sushi & Martini Bar, which was started by the same owners on the first floor, has also closed.
Though the restaurant opened in early 2011, the nightclub has been mired in uncertainty since work began in the former Bank of America building in late 2010. It opened in February 2012, about a year past its estimated debut because of construction delays and code requirements such as a reinforced dance floor.
Originally, owners Marek Pietryniak and Bart Pilipajc billed the club as a destination for the older set, the 40- and 50-somethings who would enjoy a good martini and sunset views. But soon a younger, rowdier crowd was lured with pulsing music and sexy bartenders squeezed into aquamarine corsets.
At the end of last year, One Progress Plaza, at 200 Central Ave., filed a lawsuit complaining about damage to the building.
At some point the restaurant and nightclub were listed for sale on the Sunbelt business brokerage website at an undisclosed price. The listing, which is still online, cited inventory, furniture, fixtures and equipment worth $410,000. The stated reason for selling is because the owner has other ventures outside the country.
In July a circuit judge made a summary judgment in favor of One Progress Plaza that evicted Pietryniak. Pilipajc told the Tampa Bay Times he hasn't been involved in either business for about 18 months.
Pietryniak's wife, Rosemary Burns, told the Times in an email that her husband has never been late on monthly $26,000 rent payments and he would have 17 months left on the lease had it not been terminated.
Property manager Roger Donaldson as well as attorneys for One Progress Plaza couldn't be reached for comment.
Promoter Jason Page with Night Life Kings said his company kept Vue 19 rocking on Saturday nights with crowds of 600 to 700 people.
"It's definitely a loss," he said.
Page is convinced a club in an office tower can be compatible with commercial tenants with the right management.
"The space is beautiful," he said. "There's not another club in the surrounding area that compares."
The closure opens up some prime retail real estate on a busy block at a time when St. Petersburg's downtown core is booming.
The first floor space is probably more attractive to potential tenants because of visibility and access, but the 19th floor has plenty of potential, too, said Paula Clair Smith, owner of Merritt Realty Corp., who specializes in commercial real estate in St. Petersburg.
There are few restaurants or bars that offer both indoor and outdoor space with stellar views, Smith said.
"It could be a fabulous location for the right operation," she said. "That combination is always in high demand in the St. Petersburg market."
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Contact Katherine Snow Smith at email@example.com. Follow @snowsmith.