Main Street Jazz Club gets approval

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

Let the music begin.

On Wednesday, the Suffolk City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit allowing downtown investors Horace Balmer and Sherwin Turner to move ahead on the long-awaited Main Street Jazz Club.

Renovations to the three-story, 9,600-square-foot building at 136 S. Main St. will begin in early June, Balmer said.

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&uot;We were elated over the unanimous votes of support by both the planning commission and the city council,&uot; he said.

The bottom floor of the building, the former home to Main Street Antiques, will house an upscale restaurant with seating for up to 120. That floor will also include a private dining room for 24 and a 16-seat bar, according to plans submitted to the city. The project also calls for an outdoor dining area seating up to 35 people.

The second floor will be Main Street’s entertainment hub, a nightclub area featuring cabaret and booth seating for 160 to 180 people, a second bar area and a 160-square-foot performance stage.

&uot;We will be the most unique jazz club in Hampton Roads,&uot; said Balmer recently. The Norfolk native, now a resident of north Suffolk, also co-owns a Harlem jazz club.

The club, which will bring in renowned jazz artists on weekends, will be a drawing card for blues and jazz lovers from Hampton Roads, northeastern North Carolina and beyond, he said.

Entertainment will also thrive during the week, Turner said. For example, he said, they are planning to have swing dancing to big band music on Mondays, open mic nights on Wednesdays, and gospel brunches on Sundays.

During Wednesday’s public hearing, Turner said he and Balmer are confident Main Street will have a positive impact on the city’s downtown.

&uot;It’s going to make downtown a very exciting place to be,&uot; Balmer added.

The two also have a contract on neighboring property occupied by Epps Farm Supply. The sale on the property at 162 S. Main St. is slated to close in September.

Although they don’t have a particular business in mind, Balmer and Turner say they will lease the building for use as another sort of much-needed restaurant or entertainment site.