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Gaslighter Owners Offer Up Their Plans to Community in Hopes of Gaining Support

Melodann, Inc. invites community to Orchard Valley Coffee shop to view designs, get information for plans for proposed restaurant and lounge .

Dozens of Campbell residents and downtown business owners came out to Orchard Valley Coffee shop Wednesday evening to get more information from the applicants and building owners of the historic Gaslighter Theater who are seeking a conditional-use permit to operate a restaurant and serve alcohol until 2:00 a.m.

According to Sean Buxton, co-owner of the West Hall Properties, LLC, the managing partner of the historic theater, the informational mixer Wednesday was a chance for people to come in and look at the plans for Dasha’ Restaurant and Lounge, conceived by applicants Melodann, Inc., who were unanimously denied a conditional-use permit from the city’s Planning Commission on Oct. 25 due to which prohibits downtown businesses from serving alcohol past midnight.

“The reason for this informational event is to show people what we are doing,” Buxton said. “There are people out in the community that are putting out misinformation against our concept, and our big concern is getting our side of the story out so people can make an educated decision that this is good for the city.”

Melodann partner Ray Shafazand and his group are appealing the planning commission’s permit denial to the Campbell City Council on Jan. 3, 2012.

Buxton insists that some community members have the impression that Shafazand will use his building located at 400 E. Campbell Ave. as a nightclub instead of a restaurant and lounge like he plans, and that the occupancy level of around 250 people is way less than the building’s capacity of 500.

“We’ve turned away nightclubs in the past,” Buxton said. “We want an anchor tenant that will thrive in this economy and this is it. We are going to cater to the Campbell demographic.”

Shafazand, who owns two restaurant and lounge establishments in San Jose, said Wednesday’s event was a chance to show the community what exactly they have in store for their business plan and that most residents and downtown business owners are supportive of the plans.

“What we’re trying to create here is a Santana Row-feel with a fresh type of cuisine that is new to the community with a great vibe, a place you do not currently see in Campbell,” said Shafazand. “Ninety-nine percent of businesses and residents are in support of what we’re doing. I spoke to a lot of businesses, and they are thriving for more foot traffic, especially on the East side of Campbell Avenue.

Shafazand said they reached out to the Downtown Campbell Business Association about the event and did outreach through Facebook.

The Melodann group had blueprints and design plans on display for guests to view, along with the planned food menus and culinary staff to answer questions.

Attendees Mark and Laura Robicheck, who frequent downtown for shopping and events, said they came out to the event Wednesday on Campbell Patch, and were impressed with the applicants’ plans for the former theater.

“We believe in the preservation of historic buildings, and the fact that they will preserve it means a lot,” Mark said. “Plus we love Greek and French food.”

Laura Robicheck said she was satisfied to see a business plan that could help people shop and eat downtown.

“I came here unsure how I will feel, but I’m happy they will be doing it,” she said.

The group collected signatures from visitors who are in support of their plan. As of Wednesday evening, the group had 134 on-line signatures.

But not everyone at the event was in support of the proposed restaurant and lounge.

A number of Campbell residents stood near the entranceway to Orchard Valley Coffee handing out informational literature denouncing the business plan.

Campbell resident Ed Sengstack said that he and a group of concerned resident are opposing the lounge portion of the business plan because it is in violation with the city’s general plan, downtown development plan and nighttime occupancy of the lounge will soak up more city and police resources.

Sengstack, who has requesting denial of the project, said the implementation of another lounge operating into early morning will affect the entire city, not just downtown residents and businesses.

“We are out here to keep them honest,” Sengstack said. “The bottom line is we’re not opposed to restaurants with a bar, but these guys have downtown San Jose businesses that operate as nightclubs between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. and a nightclub is what we are opposed to.”

mary g December 23, 2011 at 03:58 PM
No, we don't need another bar in downtown Campbell, especially one so large that it will double the current bar population. Adding 250 people to our nighttime population will keep our local police department so busy that residents in other parts of our town will likely not have help available when they need it. Check out the number of DUI's on the police blog now, and ask yourself, do we need 250 more potentially drunk drivers on our streets each night? This establishment is not aimed at serving just local residents, it is intended to draw people in after the bars close on Santana Row and in Los Gatos. Do you know we already have "party buses" coming here from as far away as Oakland and San Francisco? Is this what we want for the future of our quiet little town?
David and Darlene Steele December 23, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Many serious problems with this situation- here are two of them- PROBLEM #1: The announcement for this event stated the applicant is holding an "Informational Mixer to Discuss Renovation of Gaslighter." http://www.downtowncampbell.com/eventinfo.php?eventid=15884 This is completely disingenuous. They are trying to position their application as a "renovation" to get public support for a nightclub. PROBLEM #2: The Planning Commission carefully considered their application (looked careful to me, I was there) and unanimously denied it for many very good reasons. Here are the minutes of that meeting with all the facts and discussion from both sides- http://www.cityofcampbell.com/AgendasMinutes/2011/pm10252011.pdf The most important reason for denial (in my opinion) is that the project is simply not a fit for Downtown Campbell. It is clearly proposed to be a restaurant by day and "Las Vegas style" nightclub by night. The applicant insists they can't pay the bills with a restaurant alone. On page 20 of their application, in their own words- "Melodann will be more than another restaurant, more than another bar and grill-- it will be a combined one-stop entertainment shop representing an escape from reality with its Las Vegas-styled decor, upscale atmosphere and vibe." Read the application for yourself and be very afraid for the future of our tiny downtown if this project goes through- http://www.cityofcampbell.com/AgendasMinutes/2011/pa10252011/Item%203%20-%20400%20E%20Campbell.pdf
Louis Stone-Collonge December 23, 2011 at 10:05 PM
is it me or does Campbell have enough places to get drunk? Just askin...
Ed Sengstack December 24, 2011 at 05:10 PM
With all due respect, Laura... While their current and previous businesses would suggest otherwise, let's just assume that they're actually going to pull off an upscale restaurant. Then why not close at midnight per the city's current policies for restaurant/bars? Why are they applying for an exception (a Conditional Use Permit) that will allow them to stay open till 2am, with late-night alcohol sales and entertainment? BTW, that late-night entertainment will be DJ music, not live bands. Sorry, too much history and too much of their current biz plan for this property says "noisy nightclub" from 10pm-2am to me.
Barry Shilman December 24, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Readers should be aware of the misleading statements made by the operators of the Ultra Lounge. Their presentation at Orchard Valley Coffee last Wednesday focused almost entirely on saving the historic Growers Natiional Bank more recently known as the Gaslighter Theater. However, all the required historic renovation to this beautiful building were completed before the current proposal was first presented. In fact, the operators of the lounge had no hand in these renovations which began well over two years ago and were completed earlier this year. Whether the Gaslighter Theater becomes a nightclub, a pet boutique, or an auto parts store, the historic structure has already been preserved. If the Ultra Lounge operators win their appeal they will configure the interior space to become a "Las Vegas style fantasy experience"...and an "escape from reality". (Quoted from the business plan they submitted to the city.) Their suggestion that they simply want to preserve the historic building is completely misleading and a clumsy attempt to mask the real issue their proposal raises. The only issue before the city council on January 3 is: Do we want yet another nightclub in downtown open until 2:00AM seven days a week?

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