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St. Petersburg's State Theatre saved in $2.1 million deal

The State Theatre at 687 Central Ave. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
The State Theatre at 687 Central Ave. N. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
Published Jun. 28, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — The State Theatre has been saved.

After months of renovations and capacity problems due to a series of fire code violations, the popular concert venue at 687 Central Ave. was sold Tuesday to a family trust run by St. Petersburg real estate broker Kevin Chadwick.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: St. Petersburg's State Theatre for sale after struggles with fire code violations

Originally listed in December for $1.9 million, it sold for $2.1 million, a figure that includes both the property and the assets of the independently operated club inside. Chadwick — who already owns a three-story office building and parking lot on the 600 block, just northeast of the State Theatre — said he plans to invest up to an additional $1 million in safety and cosmetic upgrades.

"I really feel it's important to restore it back to a true historic landmark, and then once you're there, create a unique venue," said Chadwick, 57, who owns 10 Keller Williams real estate franchises around Tampa Bay. "It has to be authentic, and so the only way to do that is to truly pay attention to the detail of what it was when it first opened."

The venue will continue to host live music, he said, but also private events and maybe even return to its early days as a movie house. That's what it was the last time Chadwick went there as a patron, at age 12. It's also where his parents had their first date.

"We're still going to have fun concerts, but it's going to be a venue that's going to have multiple purposes," he said. "It's also going to be a theater, it's going to be an event hall where you might have private parties. You're going to feel really comfortable if you want to throw a real fun bash."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Amid fire code violations, the State Theatre struggles to keep shows

There were some concerns that the State's concert days were done. In November 2016, a fire marshal's inspection uncovered some 30 violations ranging from outdated fire alarms and sprinklers to a green room riddled with safety issues. Then in September, the fire marshal slashed the venue's capacity from more than 700 to less than 400, forcing some concerts to move to larger venues, and limiting the number of new shows the club could book.

"It's a great performing venue that a lot of people were concerned would not be around if someone didn't take some action," said Jon Wittner, managing director for KW Commerical Tampa Bay, who brokered the deal for Chadwick. "It's a rare, wonderful midsize concert venue that St. Pete could ill afford to lose."

In December the club's owners, Anthony and Frank Dagostino, exercised a clause in their long-term lease agreement that allowed them to put the club and property up for sale as a package.

Until this week, the State had zero concerts listed on its upcoming calendar. On Monday, promoters No Clubs announced they'd booked a Sept. 28 show there by singer-songwriter Andy Grammer, at an expected capacity of 600.

No Clubs is run by promoter Tony Rifugiato, who until Tuesday was also an owner of the property, but not the club business inside.

"As long as it meets a criteria we will put some of our shows there," Rifugiato said in an email. "It is part of the St. Pete fabric and shouldn't be ignored."

Chadwick said he will spend the rest of the summer getting the building fully up to code and restructuring its backstage dressing areas. By the end of the year, the building will get a renovated facade and new marquee. Next spring should see interior renovations, including three new bars.

"When you walk through the front door of the theater, you're captivated to want to be part of it," Chadwick said. "I think it's a perfect legacy property for my family. It's in dire need of somebody who cares and wants to restore it, and we have plans to truly do some great things for it."

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

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