MDHA, Rocketown have a deal

City to help club move to Fourth Avenue South site

To make way for the extension of Korean Veterans Boulevard, Metro will buy the teen-centered music venue Rocketown for $5.6 million.

The Metro Development and Housing Agency board has agreed to purchase the site at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Shirley Street Wednesday.

ReGina Newkirk, Rocketown’s executive director, said it was important the nonprofit maintain its downtown presence.

“It’s crucial to us to reach the youth we serve,” she said.

Newkirk said Rocketown is close to finalizing a $6.2 million deal to purchase the Grooms Engine building on Fourth Avenue South.

“We still need to raise some funds, but this will address a portion of that,” she said.

The Grooms building is slightly smaller than Rocketown’s current building, but Newkirk expects the new home will be able to offer the same activities as the Sixth Avenue site, which includes a large music performance venue, an indoor skate park and a coffee bar.

Newkirk said the city has been proactive in helping the club relocate. Plans are for the new Rocketown location to open in the summer or fall of 2010. With the extension of Korean Veterans still in its early stages, Newkirk hopes there is no need for an interim space.

Singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith founded Rocketown in 1994 and then relocated to downtown in 1999. Close to 1,500 teenagers visit the club each week and its owners recently expanded their concept to South Florida.