Space for rent? 

In a town known for being politically agnostic, it was refreshing to learn of the planned Sept. 1 opening of The Space, Inc., in a former Oriental rug showroom at Orange Avenue and Princeton Street. Together with the leftist group Stone Soup Collective, Victor Perez wanted to open what would essentially be a clearinghouse for poets and musicians, offer yoga classes, and maybe even have some message therapy. In the same spot Stone Soup would hold political meetings and set up an alternative lending library.

Well, put those plans on hold. The Space now needs to find a new place to rent. If you ask the would-be landlord, Florida Hospital, it's because Perez couldn't come up with enough money to fulfill his vision -- something Perez himself confirms. Nevertheless, some Stone Soup members think the decision not to rent the property was made by Florida Hospital after it learned what constituted The Space's content.

On Aug. 6, the Sentinel published a story on a "revolutionary bowling" night (which, we should note, was featured in Steve Schneider's "Afterwords" column in these pages last November; thanks for reading, Sentinel) that included a mention of Stone Soup's participation and the group's ambitions for The Space. According to an e-mail sent out by Stone Soup's Paul Jones -- who in a subsequent e-mail stated that the Collective wanted to wait to decide "how we should pursue this issue" and declined to return Orlando Weekly's phone call by press time -- "after the running of the article the Florida Hospital decided that they do not want to rent the space to 'rebels'" `Jones' quotation marks`.

Not so, says Sandy Levy, who handled the matter for Florida Hospital. She says the decision had nothing to do with the article: "The financing was the `thing` that crashed the deal." In fact, she points out, the leftist group was one of many that would have inhabited The Space.

Perez is in the middle. Yes, he thinks the article may have led Florida Hospital -- a Seventh Day Adventist-owned institution -- not to want to rent the space to him, but "regardless of Florida Hospital, it wasn't for sure going to happen in that location, anyway." Simply put, Perez was short on cash and not eager to go into debt, as had happened with his previous venture, Gallery 6 Eleven, which hosted similar artistic fare.

Even if Florida Hospital decided to keep him out based on the article, Perez says, that's perfectly within their rights. "Every renter has the choice of who they want in their space."

The Collective -- which is still soliciting memberships and donations -- is looking for a new place to call home, and continues to aim for a September opening. Perez, meanwhile, seems a bit iffy about the partnership. "We haven't really done anything yet," he says.

"The space is still available," Levy says, adding that if Perez came up with enough money, it would even be available for him and his lefty sidekicks.


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