The city of St. Petersburg celebrates Minority Enterprise Development Week with an Open House at the historic Manhattan Casino, 642 22nd Street South, on Friday, October 14, from 5 to 6:30 pm.
The community and interested stakeholders are invited to walk through the facility. The first and second floors will be open during the 90-minute Open House event. City officials are offering this opportunity for small and minority businesses to look at the facility before the Manhattan Casino Request for Proposal is released this month.
Entities interested in the upcoming RFP are encouraged to attend.
Meanwhile, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum is planning a protest. Museum officials are asking residents to "Lift Every Voice Until Victory is Won."
They write: "Recently, the Woodson requested the use of one of the most historic African American sites in St. Petersburg: the Manhattan Casino. The reason for this request was two-fold: (1) to maintain the building as a historic African American landmark, and (2) to be able to expand its offerings as a museum, cultural center, and tourist destination.
"However, the City of St. Petersburg is issuing a Request For Proposal, despite the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum's request to expand its offerings to the iconic Manhattan Casino. This open competition will give the building to the best proposal-- being the highest bidder. The Woodson is imploring this consideration: that St. Petersburg’s assets should not be viewed wholly for monetary gain. Instead, certain iconic locations are held closely for the benefit of the community. This includes facilities such as: the Mahaffey Theater, the Coliseum, Sunken Gardens, the port, and other subsidized city-owned properties. ... Such a historical landmark demands to maintain the history of its people."
About the Manhattan Casino, from its website:
Built in 1925, the Manhattan Casino is significant for its contribution to entertainment and the culture in the African American community for more than forty years. The Manhattan Casino was a showcase for local African American artists as well as a haven for traveling African American entertainers who would stop in St. Petersburg during their tours. Some of American music's most legendary performers played at the Manhattan including James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Fats Domino and the Ink Spots. After the era of the big bands, the Manhattan Casino hosted dances featuring local artists; rock and roll and blues singers popular in the 1960's also performed at the Casino. Goldie Thompson, local minister and radio personality, booked religious programs at the Casino, as did Father Divine, a spiritualist. The venue closed in 1968 and reopened in August 2013. It is now a multi-purpose event facility.