-By Gypsy C. Gallardo
Pinellas County School Board Member and Kriseman surrogate Rene Flowers just may have struck a win-win deal in the simmering battle over the Manhattan Casino.
The past six-day whirlwind of dueling press conferences, petition drives, and meetings resulted, at 11 p.m. last night, in a two-page proposal by Flowers that’s won a nod from at least two of the three major parties involved.
Head of the Manhattan Casino Legacy Collaborative, Gloria Campbell, whose team protested the Mayor’s choice of a competitor to lease the facility, says Flowers’ approach is “a good starting point.”
Mayor Rick Kriseman affirmed in a break-of-dawn email today that Flowers’ concept is workable. His note to Flowers reads “The solution you proposed is exactly the solution we proposed to the Legacy group. We were told that financially it would not work for them unless they also had control of the restaurant. If they are now willing to consider such an arrangement, then I am more optimistic that an agreement might be reachable.”
The deal, in essence, would entail both groups separately leasing portions of the facility. While Callaloo operates its café, commissary and bar on the ground floor, the Legacy group would be free to manage the top floor as an entertainment venue reminiscent of its glory days during the segregation era.
The Callaloo Group, which won the Mayor’s recommendation to lease the Manhattan, had previously assented to a similar negotiation but has not been formally introduced to what is now being called “The Flowers Compromise.”
More than a dozen Legacy group supporters spoke before City Council today in support of their vision.
Campbell says “We wanted to clear up several misperceptions being circulated about our effort. People have said that our group lacks experience and a plan for raising the resources needed. Neither is true. People obviously had not read our proposal.”
Leaders of the Legacy group will continue their push this weekend with a private meet-and-greet for supporters and board members. The event was set a month in advance. It will take place this Saturday at the Manhattan Casino .