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Beach Theatre sold; new owner has ‘a lot of ideas’

Bill DeYoung

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The Beach Theatre, 315 Corey Ave., has stood vacant since November 2012. Photo by Bill DeYoung

After standing shuttered for nine years, the Beach Theatre – the only movie house on St. Pete Beach – was sold Aug. 11 to Scott Commercial Holdings, LLC.

The 4,800-square-foot theater at 315 Corey Ave. sold for $652,000, according to Pinellas County property records.

“The owner does not yet know what to do with it,” said Hendrik Bisanz, a broker with Seasalt Properties, which arranged the sale to Scott Commercial Holdings. “There are a lot of ideas.

Bisanz said that he and principal Christopher Scott started exchanging online articles about “what to do with an old theater. And that’s still where we’re at now.”

RELATED STORY: VINTAGE ST. PETE: Michael France and the Beach Theatre

Constructed in 1940, the Beach was the first theater in the county built exclusively for sound pictures. It was also one of the first to be equipped with air conditioning.

Michael France

Screenwriter Michael France (Cliffhanger, Goldeneye) bought the aging facility in 2007 and programmed small, independent films, cinema classics and cult favorites like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

France died unexpectedly in April, 2013 from complications related to diabetes; he’d had to close the Beach Theatre the previous November due to money woes.

“The theater needed a lot of work,” said his father Michael France Sr., who operates Beach Theatre Management, LLC. “We got such an excellent offer on it, as is – we didn’t really have to do anything, although I did put a new roof covering on it.”

Legal and intra-family complications kept the building off the market for nine years. “When it came up for sale,” France Sr., said, “we had I’m forgetting how many offers.

“I would go by the theater and work inside, just to see if I could find anything that needed my attention, and people would come by and ask about, constantly.”

Scott Commercial Holdings was registered as a Limited Liability Company Aug. 2, with 315 Corey Ave. – the Beach Theatre building – listed as its address.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sylvia Rusche

    August 17, 2021at12:52 pm

    The official end of an era. Loved that place and really liked Mike as well. Fine guy and a very talented one as well.

  2. Avatar

    Lisa

    August 17, 2021at2:46 pm

    Why is this the “end of an era”? Are they planning to demolish the building? I hope not. Seems like this could be the beginning of something great …. Again. It has been sad to see it sit unused for so long.

  3. Avatar

    JMargaret Crookstom

    August 18, 2021at2:15 am

    As a neighborhood resident, I am thrilled that the evolution will bring exciting changes. We love our Corey Ave District.

  4. Avatar

    Farrah

    August 18, 2021at7:23 am

    I would love to see independent films there! Such a great place!

  5. Avatar

    Dave

    August 18, 2021at8:15 am

    Seems like there are big things planned for this.
    I have met the new owner and he has big plans for the building!

  6. Avatar

    Kim

    August 18, 2021at8:25 am

    Just love this theatre and am excited of what the new owners will bring to Corey Ave.

  7. Avatar

    Shelley Eckert

    August 18, 2021at10:41 am

    Absolutely loved going to movies and some folk concerts too at The Beach Theatre. WMNF Radio in Tampa was actively putting on events at the theatre the last couple of years when it was open and there were big crowds who attended because this radio station put the word out. This theatre reminded me of the Art Theatre in Hobart, Indiana where I saw all my childhood movies and it looks very similar too. Mike was a very friendly outgoing guy and it was a shock when he suddenly passed. I would love to see it showing movies and/or intimate concerts again. Small town ambiance is always nice and it would bring business to the city too.

  8. Jennie Renfrow

    Jennie Renfrow

    August 18, 2021at3:02 pm

    I sincerely hope the building stays intact. I’d love to see it become an entertainment venue…food, drinks, pool tables, ping pong, foosball all and a variety of small entertainment acts. Please not another seafood place or crazy late night place!

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