Realtor and philanthropist Kevin Chadwick was Thursday’s guest on The Catalyst Sessions, and he talked about the former State Theatre, which he purchased two years ago and has been renovating ever since. Renamed the Floridian Social Club, the Central Avenue performance space wasn’t quite ready for unveiling when the COVID-19 crisis hit.
In 2018, “it had a lot of problems,” Chadwick said. “In real estate terms, it had pretty much expired – its remaining life was done. It needed everything from electrical to plumbing. But here’s the cool part – the foundation and the bones of that building are as rock solid today as when it was built.”
The Floridian began life as a bank in 1925; for 30 years, it was a single-screen movie theater. Designated a Local Historic Landmark in 1991, it was home to a bar and concert venue, until years of physical and financial decline finally took their toll.
Chadwick’s enthusiasm for the Floridian project is palpable. A second-generation St. Petersburg native, he sees this as a family legacy. On The Catalyst Sessions, he delightedly discussed each step involved in tearing out and re-building the interior, describing them as exciting archaeology projects.
He looked at historic photos, and artist renderings, and talked about each in turn. And announced a plan to have a brand-new mural created on the building’s rear exterior wall, by St. Pete artist Pale Horse.
The current plans call for a mixed-use facility, with concerts of all types in the auditorium – or meetings, or other events, depending on the calendar. The bar and the balcony have been re-built from the ground up. There’s to be a coffee shop in the lobby seven mornings a week.
Chadwick also addressed concerns from those who frequented the State Theatre bar and concert hall. When he bought the building, he said, there were two other interested parties – and neither had any interest in running the State as a place to hear music.
“I am in your playbook,” he said. “It’s so important for me to create a music venue that we all can love, and experience and so forth.
“If it weren’t for us re-inventing this as a music venue, those other two buyers, I can tell you, I think you’d be ordering tacos from the building right now.”
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