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Proposed drive-in theater in Warehouse Arts District moves forward despite property hurdles

Veronica Brezina

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Rooftop Cinema Club operated a pop-up drive-in near Armature Works in Tampa from October through December 2020. Photo: Rooftop Cinema Club

A drive-in movie theater that would be created with shipping containers is moving forward after the county compromised on changes for the property.

During a Wednesday St. Pete Development Review Committee meeting, members unanimously approved a special exception for Miami-based Tricera Nitneil Venture Property Owner LLC’s creation of a drive-in movie theater in the Warehouse Arts District.

Before coming to an agreement, the members debated how the proposed temporary drive-in movie theater should or shouldn’t undergo the same infrastructure requirements a permanent development project would have to meet, such as building sidewalks and drainage.

“I think this a cool project and would be great to have for 18 months, but someone out of town is saying, ‘we aren’t going to comply’… it’s a great project, but I have hang ups with expectations,” DRC member Joseph Griner said.

However, developer Joe Furst reiterated how this is only a temporary project and investing in infrastructure wouldn’t be financially feasible for this type of project.

“I’m pleased we were able to remove what I believed to be material hurdles. Again, this is a temporary use, it would’ve been cost prohibitive for either party,” said Furst, who owns and has invested in multiple properties in St. Pete.

The proposed plan is for California-based Rooftop Cinema Club to construct a drive-in, with a 64-foot projection screen. It would be built at 2100 3rd Ave South on 3 vacant acres of land that’s zoned for industrial traditional.

The containers would be assembled along the east side of the property for the screen. The site would also have concessions provided through a local vendor, a potential bar, bathrooms and a viewing area that could accommodate more than 150 vehicles.

“Having shipping containers is a lower cost point [than typical materials] and makes sense economically,” Furst said. “In everything I do, the goal is for it to become a community asset.”

The drive-in movie theater is expected to open this year. Furst currently does not have a projected estimated cost for the project.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Charlie Guy

    June 4, 2021at2:36 am

    What a great idea! This but again points out but another exciting example of creating fun & entertainment for residents & visitors alike in the Warehouse Arts District & the Deuces Live!! Charlie Guy, Co-Founder, Southside Greenway.

  2. Avatar

    Dennis Murphy

    June 5, 2021at4:49 am

    Sounds great if its done in the winter.
    The location not so much.

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