The Beach Theatre’s new owner is looking for community input as to the future of the 81-year-old St. Pete Beach landmark.
Christopher Scott, whose Scott Commercial Holdings, LLC purchased the Corey Avenue movie house Aug. 11, will hold a “Public Vision” meeting Sept. 15 to introduce himself, and to listen to ideas and suggestions.
“Why rush into anything?” said Hendrik Bisanz, the founder and CEO of Seasalt Properties who brokered the $652,000 sale. “Why not allow those who have comments and opinions to share them, and meet the new owner? We’re looking for inclusion. Who knows what that may bring?”
Bisanz said that Scott and the other principals have made no decisions about the next chapter in the Beach’s saga.
“Despite the fact that his immediate question was ‘What are we going to do with it?’ we both agreed it would make sense to move forward and try to purchase it and try to do something that will benefit the community, and that will be well-received,” Bisanz said.
A factor in the purchase, according to Bisanz, was the planned development of Corey Landings, a proposed $90 million mixed-use project at the eastern edge of Corey, near the vintage theater, by Ram Realty Advisors.
“From the beginning, we realized that this purchase comes with quite a bit of responsibility and sensitivity,” he said. “We’re very mindful of that, especially with this new development on the eastern side. Can you imagine if somebody turned the theater into a drugstore?”
Scott “often says he leads his companies by being very inclusive – he welcomes feedback and ideas from anyone involved. And here, that translates into this Public Vision Meeting. He’s interested in hearing what the public has to say, ideas, what they would like it to be.”
The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. Members of St. Pete Beach city government will be in attendance.
The new owners have also set up an email address, email@example.com, and are actively soliciting ideas there.
“We’re already being contacted by many that could even participate in developing something, or managing the business, very qualified people,” Bisanz explained. “The question is, can we maybe even develop a sense of ownership amongst the community?
“We have to think about this further, but there is an idea of some sort of local crowdfunding, so that there is community involvement.”
Nothing is off the table.
“Keeping it at least partly a movie theater would be amazing, wouldn’t it?” Bisanz speculated. “To make financial sense out of that is going to be tough. Maybe crowdfunding would be a way to shift the focus away from profitability, solely, to doing something that is just great for the community.”
The Beach Theatre has been closed since 2012. Screenwriter Michael France, who owned and operated the theater for five years, died unexpectedly in 2013.
After years of legal squabbling and other snafus, the Beach was on the market for exactly one day. France’s family sold the property to Scott for $173,000 over the asking price.