Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mayor considers lease of Manhattan Casino after rejecting buyer's deal

ST. PETERSBURG — With just two weeks to go before its grand reopening, the historic — and barren — Manhattan Casino has become the prize in a sudden tug-of-war.

On one side, Mayor Bill Foster says he is in talks with someone who could lease the two-story 1925 building along 22nd Street S. That's just a week after he rejected the only bid from a developer proposing a plan for the casino.

"I'm not prepared to discuss who it is at this point," Foster told the Times. "When all goes well, you can be in the front row at the press conference."

On the other side is the man Foster rejected, Larry Newsome. Still smarting from the Oct. 7 rebuff of his nonprofit corporation's bid, Newsome is mounting a campaign to be reconsidered. On Tuesday, he sent Foster and City Council members a 10-page rebuttal outlining the mistakes he said city staffers made in their analysis of his bid.

Newsome passed out a letter seeking community support during a Thursday candidate forum attended by nearly 300 people at Mount Zion Progressive Church in Midtown. He expected to find backing there, considering that Mount Zion's pastor, the Rev. Louis Murphy, is a director of Urban Development Solutions, the nonprofit where Newsome is president.

Although Foster said the Manhattan is not for sale, Newsome had proposed buying the building for $2.25 million. His company would spend $250,000 on renovations.

Newsome wanted to get the purchase money through a 10-year loan from the city. If the Manhattan didn't make money, Newsome would ask the city to forgive the interest payments. The second option suggested was to lease the building for 20 years.

The company's proposal came after Newsome and city staffers spent months working out details for resurrecting the Manhattan, which was a dance hall until it closed in 1966. The city spent $1.4 million to renovate it in 2005. A grand reopening is planned Oct. 28-30.

Newsome wanted to have a company that operates a soul food restaurant occupy the first floor, and lease the second floor for events.

Newsome said his proposal would create 85 jobs and generate $16 million in economic development for Midtown.

But Foster followed the advice of his staff, which concluded that the terms Newsome sought were too favorable for Urban Development Solutions and too risky for the city. He said Newsome changed the terms of the original bid, so it wouldn't be fair to accept it.

"If we reissue the request for proposal (to match what Newsome is proposing), I suspect we'll get back 100 bids because it's a pretty good deal," Foster said.

Newsome worked closely with Foster's predecessor, Rick Baker, in developing a shopping plaza in 2005 that ushered in Sweetbay Supermarket, Midtown's first grocery store. He counts Goliath Davis, a top city administrator fired by Foster in March, as a supporter of his plan.

On Thursday night, Newsome said he will meet next week with city officials to further discuss his proposal.

During a testy meeting Thursday, council members Wengay Newton and Leslie Curran questioned Foster on his decision. Both said that, considering Newsome's track record, Foster should have discussed the project with him.

It's the latest issue Curran has spotlighted that distinguishes her from Foster. This summer, she pressured Foster to disclose his plan for the possibility of the Tampa Bay Rays leaving Tropicana Field. Foster said he had a plan, but wouldn't publicly reveal it.

When Foster said he was working with another group to lease the Manhattan, but wouldn't disclose more, Curran replied: "It's another secret plan."

Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or

Mayor considers lease of Manhattan Casino after rejecting buyer's deal 10/15/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 5:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Allegiant Air reports $400 million in revenue for second quarter

    Allegiant Air CEO Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. | [Courtesy of Tony Jannus Aviation Society]
  2. Dade City's Wild Things touts cub encounters as conservation, but experts say they lead to too many tigers languishing in cages


    DADE CITY — A lifelong animal lover, Lisa Graham was intrigued when she saw photos on social media of friends cuddling and petting baby tigers at zoos.

    A tiger named Andy is seen at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Big Cat Rescue is a nonprofit sanctuary committed to humane treatment of rescued animals, often coming from exploitive for-profit operations. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times

  3. Once close to death in Ukraine, sick girl finds hope in Tampa Bay

    Human Interest

    Everything was packed for Walt Disney World. Clothes for three nights. The pressurized air vest and pump that travel with her. The dress she would wear to meet Cinderella.

    Marina Khimko, 13, pauses for a moment during a walking exercise to test her prosthetic legs at a fitting appointment Dec. 7 at the Shriners Hospital for Children's Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services in Tampa.  [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  4. What you need to know for Thursday, July 27


    href=""> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Marina Khimko, now 14, pauses for a moment during a walking exercise to test her prosthetic legs at a fitting appointment at the Shriners Hospitals for Children's Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services in Tampa.  [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  5. Colors and culture in Cuba overwhelm first-time visitor


    I landed in Havana with many questions about what we would witness in our brief visit. There was so much rich history and culture I wanted to experience, but the stories I had heard from Cuban refugees rang in my brain. After the death of Fidel Castro, some Cuban immigrants danced in the streets of Tampa and told …

    Havana is a photographer's dream. Bright colors abound, from the walls to the classic cars to the streets filled with tourists, musicians and locals. All of these elements are a part of photographs that were so rare for Americans to capture until very recently. I loved photographing this scene in front of this perfect yellow wall.