ST. PETERSBURG — The City of St. Petersburg gave community members and interested stakeholders an opportunity to tour the Manhattan Casino before the Request for Proposal (RFP) is released later this month.
Urban Affairs Director Nikki Capehart said the timing of the event was synched with honoring Minority Enterprise Development Week.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum Chair Terri Lipsey-Scott said the pre RFP tour came as the museum had begun to petition the city to house the Woodson at the Manhattan.
She stated that she was “delighted by the number of supporters who convened on a Friday evening with short notice to envision the Manhattan Casino space as an expansion of the Woodson museum.”
Lipsey-Scott said the Manhattan Casino represents one of the most historic structures that remain along the Deuces “whose fond memories are expressed with great interest for preservation.”
The Woodson museum is St. Petersburg’s highest ranked museum in the city according to Google, and tied in first place on Facebook with the Dali Museum, representing a 4.8 rating.
Despite the museum having one restroom available for their hundreds of guests, poor parking lighting, and lacks paid full-time personnel, its efforts are celebrated by visitors who return time and time again, said Lipsey-Scott.
“Understanding that the mayor has decided to issue an RFP for the city-owned Manhattan Casino, the Woodson and friends are hopeful that the request will be written with inclusive language as to not negate the museum’s desire to be considered,” she remarked.
More than 1,000 supporters have signed a petition for the mayor’s consideration to honor their request for the museum’s expansion at the Manhattan Casino.
The Manhattan Casino is a two-story complex with an open bar area and restaurant on the first floor and a large multi-purpose banquet facility upstairs. Approximately 2.8 million dollars was spent to renovate the two-story facility in 2005.
The original Manhattan Casino was built in 1925 and became a renowned venue for black artist who performed on the Chitterlings Circuit – the only venue where African –American musicians could perform in Jim Crow St. Pete.
“It’s a great opportunity to continue the growth of minority business enterprises along the historic Deuces corridor,” Capehart said.
Scott echoed similar sentiments by stating that she would love to work with prospective new clients and encourage them to take part in refining and defining the redevelopment area in the heart of south St. Petersburg.