Once unruly, the scene at Hulk Hogan's beach club calms down

Luis Santana  |   Times  (2014)  Legendary wrestler and sports icon Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan poses for a patriotic portrait at his restaurant and bar Hogan's Beach in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Luis Santana | Times (2014) Legendary wrestler and sports icon Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan poses for a patriotic portrait at his restaurant and bar Hogan's Beach in Tampa. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Published Apr. 16, 2015

TAMPA — It has been a quiet spring at Hogan's Beach, the Courtney Campbell Causeway restaurant and bar owned by professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

And that's a welcome change for nearby businesses and Dana Shores homeowners who last year complained about thundering concerts and hordes of bar patrons who parked illegally, tailgated noisily, littered indiscriminately and urinated freely on neighboring properties.

Those complaints prompted Tampa police, zoning and code enforcement officials to scrutinize Hogan's Beach and conclude that the bar was violating its zoning by operating as a place of assembly, a use not permitted by its city-approved site plan.

Since then, officials have worked with the club to compile a list of issues to be resolved. They include getting building permits for improvements done to the club deck that were built without them, and the need to apply for a variance allowing the club's can't-miss-it electronic sign.

But the music has been toned down. It got loud one night last month, so neighbors called club management. It got quiet.

"A community truly is healed," Dana Shores Civic Association president Allison Roberts told the City Council on Thursday.

The club so far has not applied for any temporary special event permits for big events — in the past its own promotional materials have claimed crowds of up to 5,000 — and police say patrols of the area haven't turned up any problems.

"Hogan's Beach has been very quiet," police Maj. Rocky Ratliff said. "We haven't had any problems or concerns at Hogan's Beach."

Hogan's Beach representative Steve Michelini said the club had been under scrutiny for months and had responded to every issue that's been raised. Still, at the request of the nearby Westin Tampa Bay hotel, the council asked for a follow-up report in 90 days.

In other business, the council approved:

• A 10-year lease to put a new public art studio in the renovated Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on N Howard Avenue. The city will pay $117,975 a year for 7,865 square feet on the second floor and another 1,949 square feet on the third floor of the historic armory.

For more than two years Tampa officials have talked with the Jewish Community Center and Federation, which is undertaking a $24 million renovation of the armory, about putting a city art studio in the new center to host programs that have been crammed into less-than-optimal space at the city's Hyde Park Art Studio near Swann Avenue.

"They were in trailers, basically," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "This, I think, will complement what is happening with the JCC and make it even more attractive for the community to want to participate in."

A ground-breaking is scheduled for May 11.

• Offering up to $75,000 in incentives to a Tampa-based digital imaging company that is considering whether to expand here or at its office in Boston. The company has 116 local employees, but its name is not being disclosed because Florida law allows the identities of businesses seeking state and local incentives to remain confidential.

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To receive the money, the company (identified only as "Project Scuba") must create 125 new jobs paying an average of $64,356 by the end of 2019. It also plans to spend $5.25 million on new offices.

As proposed, Hillsborough County would contribute $75,000 and the state of Florida would put up $600,000 for an incentive package totalling $750,000.