The Euclid Avenue spot last known as the Art Bar nightclub has been sold.
Tom Behr, owner of The Beer Trappe next door, as well as Pazzo's on South Limestone and The Village Idiot on West Short Street, bought the property at 815-817 Euclid Avenue in mid-July for $525,000.
Behr plans to turn it into a restaurant and bar, with a rooftop patio and possibly a microbrewery, he said Tuesday.
"It's not going to be another nightclub," Behr said. "That's the main reason we bought it. It will be something the neighborhood can be proud of."
City council member Bill Farmer, who owns Farmer's Jewelry on the other side of the building, sounded cautiously optimistic about the new venture.
"Let's see what he can do with it," Farmer said. "As long as it's something that will mesh with the neighborhood."
Art Bar closed last year after at least two shootings outside. Although it had been a variety of nightclubs for decades, the large structure was built as a movie theater in 1958.
"We think it's the biggest, best space in the block, and we hope it will become a beacon for the neighborhood," Behr said.
In the past three weeks, Behr has painted the outside and gutted the inside, carting away old flooring and stripping the walls to the blocks.
Upstairs, in the space that was first a projection room and then a VIP lounge, Behr hopes to install garage-type doors that can be opened, and then convert the front of the building into a 1,000-square-foot rooftop garden.
Behr hasn't fixed on a name but hopes to have the new restaurant open by March and possibly use the open middle of the building for projection screen TVs for big game nights, he said.
The food will be diverse, not themed, and with a wide price range.
"Not upscale," Behr said. "I want to be able to come in my shorts and T-shirt."
Because the building has no parking lot, Behr said he knows the restaurant will have to depend on foot traffic.
"That means neighbors," he said. "This has to be something that the locals will embrace, will come to at least once a week."
His son Brett Behr runs The Beer Trappe next door, and they have to be careful not to pull customers away from the craft beer hangout, Tom Behr said. But if they can offer a house-made beer, they can augment both businesses.
"If we brew beer, it would be very limited. This won't be a brewery," Behr said. "If we brewed any, it would be sold on site."