A non-profit organization called 1909 won the $10 million bid this month for the coveted 30,000 square foot property. The company plans to use the location as a hub for innovation, collaboration and growth for small businesses through its membership program, which offers workspace, online and in-person help.
It will be quite a different look than its previous tenant, Off The Hookah. The nightclub and restaurant operation became notorious for its decibel levels — so loud the city issued scores of noise violations and a big reason why the city eventually purchased the property.
Here’s a look at the history of the property, which the city purchased for $7.5 million in 2019.
2010-2017: Off The Hookah
In the early evening, this place was a Middle Eastern dinner establishment on a busy Clematis Street. It offered two menus – one for food, the other for the hookah (a water-pipe used for fruit-flavored “smokes” in flavors ranging from apricot to tropical melon).
Later in the night, the hookah smoke, drinks and music were overflowing. But it really got rocking after midnight and became the premier night club.
Mid 2000s: Z Gallerie
The California-based home furnishings retailer did not last long after it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 and had missed four months of rent payments.
“We had a period of months where half the building’s income was gone,” Robert Kanjian, a prominent downtown attorney and one of four owners of the property, told The Palm Beach Post at the time.
Late 1990s: Big business transactions, but failed attempts
Twice there were attempts to bring New York retailer ABC Carpet & Home to Clematis Street, but they never panned out reportedly because the company said it would cost too much to renovate the property.
Mayor Nancy Graham, who headed negotiations for the city at the time, said an internal dispute within the company over the type of merchandise to sell also contributed to the decision.
The Clematis Street store would have specialized in carpets and rugs but would not have offered ABC’s hottest-selling merchandise at the time – furniture and antiques, The Post reported in 1995.
Two years later, West Palm Beach developers David Frisbie and Andrew Aiken refinanced two of their properties, gleaning about $2 million more for additional renovations to the building, with plans of potentially create a movie theatre.
They eventually sold the buildings to City Center in 1998 for $7.95 million.
Chicago-based real estate company Transwestern Investment Co. then bought the property in April 2000. It was among the 20 properties that City Center unloaded nationwide for more than $193 million.
1922-1993: F.W. Woolworth Co.
The iconic New York-based department store was built in 1922 and the Art Deco facade remains virtually untouched despite a century of changes.
Woolworth’s lasted on Clematis Street until January 1993, when the store closed despite holding a lease through 1997. The company closed its 400 remaining five-and-dime stores in 1997.
The building was owned by lawyer Phil O’Connell Jr.
But in the middle years of the 20th century, it was THE place to chill at the counter with a hot dog, ice-cream cup or a malted milk.
Harriette Herbert Ross of Lake Clarke Shores talked to The Post in 2006 about her father, Harry Herbert, who ran the Clematis store for four decades.
“He kept that store spotless,” Harriette said. “He wouldn’t tolerate a box cluttering the aisle while customers were there.”
Harry retired in 1989 and died in 1994, a year after the Clematis store closed.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: 314 Clematis Street: A history of the downtown West Palm Beach location