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Friday, July 17, 2015

For Sale: A Slice of Cleveland Music History

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 11:01 AM

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Howard Hanna Real Estate
  • Photo courtesy of Howard Hanna Real Estate

It's time to call in all favors, collect on all loaned money, and empty the piggy bank because the historic Phantasy Entertainment Complex in Lakewood is for sale. Come up with $2.5 million, and a slice of Cleveland's musical past, present and future could be yours. 

This listing price for the 1915 complex includes the arcade, a theater, three liquor licenses, banquet halls, two clubs and a pirate ship, according to Howard Hanna real estate agent Rachele Glynias.

The Phantasy Nite Club provided space for the underground Cleveland music scene to develop starting in the 1970s with bands like the Adults, Lucky Pierre, the Exotic Birds, the Wild Giraffes, the Generators and the Dead Boys. The Phantasy Theater opened in 1982 with a performance by Psychedelic Furs and provided a springboard for bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Richard Patrick of Filter, the Thompson Twins, Iggy Pop, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Megadeth, Faith No More, The Butthole Surfers, Motorhead and Public Image Ltd. (Back in 1987, Scene's own band, Staff Infection, played a one-off gig there!)

Mike Hudson, the lead singer of the Cleveland punk band the Pagans, told the Plain Dealer that "Before the Phantasy, bands like ours were relegated to playing dive bars that people were afraid to walk into."

The DeFrasia family has owned the complex since 1965 and Michele DeFrasia has worked at the Phantasy since 1980. 35 years later, Michele DeFrasia is ready for something new for herself and her family. 

"We’ve been running it for close to 50 years and I’ve been running it since 1980," Michele said. "I am ready to move on and create some art and do something different in the second half of my life. I also want my mom to enjoy her life."

Michele recalls her mother doling out some discipline in the 1980s to one of rock's jokers and the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea. Flea used the club's kitchen to cut someone's hair and Michele's mother would not let Flea take the stage with his bandmates until he cleaned up his mess. Unproven bands may continue to have the opportunity tread the same path as Red Hot Chili Peppers did in 1989 at the Phantasy.

Glynias sees three distinct possibilities for the property. First, the buyer could continue to use the building as an entertainment destination and even expand the musical offerings as the complex is currently only open four to five days a week depending on the band schedule. 

"The earning potential to be made here is limitless should a young, aggressive entrepreneur purchase the property," Glynias said. 

Glynias said a developer could also purchase the property and potentially another commercial property for sale behind the complex and use the land to create very unique housing and fulfill a growing demand for living space in Lakewood. 

The third potential outcome for the property: turn the space into a performing arts center or even school. This possibility would involved updates and a change in the way the property operates, but Glynias cited Lakewood's thriving creative community as a catalyst for this option. 

The club will continue to book concerts until Glynias finds a buyer for the entertainment complex. After that, one can only hope the next owner preserves this part of Cleveland's musical history. 


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