The rumors that started two weeks ago became reality over the weekend, and no one knows what’s going to happen to the important downtown block that has housed the CityBlock entertainment complex. A hundred employees lost their jobs.
Club owners Ward Plauche and Don Blackburn announced over the weekend that they weren’t re-opening the club that closed last Wednesday. Plauche has been critical of city government in recent months, and especially its support of nightclubs at Fourth Street Live. Cordish’s new Sports and Social Club, supported by nearly a million dollars in the form of a forgivable loan from the city, opened last week.
It proved to be enough for Plauche, who shut down right before the biggest party week of the year.
When I spoke to him April 17, Plauche was distressed about the complex’s future and suggested that he was considering trying to turn the place into an under-age club. But I could tell that Plauche, after two decades in the bar business, didn’t have the enthusiasm for that plan.
Ironically, last Wednesday the city’s economic development director, Bruce Traughber, offered the business a $200,000 loan. But Plauche said it was too little, too late.
So CityBlock goes down as another local enterprise driven out of business by competition from out-of-town developers supported by city government. Plauche and Blackburn are true entrepreneurs, and during their days in the bar business came up with some amazing publicity stunts while bringing in top national acts as headliners. Let’s hope we hear from them again.