It used to be one of the coolest rock venues in Tampa Bay, hosting artists like Stone Temple Pilots, Warren Zevon, Primus, Richard Thompson and the Offspring. The late actor River Phoenix played there with his band, Aleka's Attic.
Now Jeff Knight, the cable and telecom impresario who breathed new life into Jannus Live and its surrounding businesses, is planning to revive Club Detroit, a 600-person venue at 16 Second St. N in St. Petersburg, which was open from 1981 to 1995. That space was for years occupied by Vintage Ultra Lounge until its lease expired this week, said Brian Bailey, a spokesman for Jannus Live. It's unclear what will happen to Vintage.
"What St. Pete kind of lacks is that 400- to 600-person venue for up-and-coming people," said Bailey, who also runs the Downtown St. Pete-centric blog ILoveTheBurg.com. "It's a nice place where they can bring in some up-and-coming acts that are making their debut among the indie scene. Hopefully, if they do well, we'll bring them back to Jannus Live in a couple of years."
Bailey said renovation on the club — including all-new sound and lighting systems — will begin in early March, with a target opening date of April 11.
It'll be the latest addition to the sprawling Jannus Live complex between Central Avenue and First Street N. Since renovating, rebranding and reopening Jannus Live in 2009 and 2010, Knight has added an upstairs VIP bar and restaurant (the Kitchen), and partnered with outside entities like MacDinton's Irish Pub to make the block even more of an entertainment hub. The new Club Detroit will serve alcohol and food from the Kitchen, Bailey said.
In addition to local and national bands, the club will host comedy acts and a regular band battle, dubbed a "cage night," where bands will compete to have music videos produced by Knight's Jannus Live TV, which delivers concert footage on demand.
Concert promoter Rob Douglas, who managed Club Detroit in the '80s and early '90s, said he was contacted by the new owners about the revival of the club, but "at this stage of the game, it's not something that I have a hand in."
"It's a great space, and I'm sure it'll turn into something fun," he said. "I really don't know what they plan to do beyond using the name, so I really don't have any sense of what their plan is. I think they're trying to pay homage to the history of the block, and there's nothing wrong with that."