Last modified Wed., March 22, 2006 - 01:30 AM
Originally created Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Glamour of Paris Hilton's nightclub could end downtown's simple life
If it all falls into place, the Landing will be the site on July fourth weekend.
By JOE LIGHT, The Times-Union
The simple life of sleepy downtown Jacksonville might come to an end in July when hotel heiress Paris Hilton swoops in to open the second location of her self-proclaimed ultra-chic nightspot, Club Paris.
The nightclub, which would take residence in The Jacksonville Landing, would be the second of her chain, which already has a location in Orlando and has plans for venues in Miami Beach, New York, Las Vegas, London and Paris.
Landing owner Toney Sleiman said that he and Club Paris executives haven't yet come to terms on a contract, but Club Paris owners announced the grand opening, which is slated for the July Fourth weekend, on their Web site.
Several downtown proponents say the arrival of a hot entertainment venue like Club Paris heralds the rise in national acclaim that the city has experienced in the past five years. If nothing else, it's a key acquisition for the Landing, whose longest running tenants include The Toy Factory and Hooters.
When the original Club Paris opened in Orlando on New Year's Eve in 2004, Orlando city officials heralded its arrival as a major accomplishment for the city's development. One city councilmember even planned to give her the key to the city. Paris arrived six hours late, so sister Nicky received the honor.
Club Paris is the first foray into the nightclub scene for Orlando businessman Fred Khalilian. Khalilian's executive assistant said that Khalilian was unavailable for comment but internal plans for the club should be finalized by tomorrow.
May be next to food court
Sleiman said Khalilian is negotiating for a 12,000 square foot location next to the food court in what used to be an arcade. Although plans for the Jacksonville spot are still in the works, the club in Orlando has a strong pink motif and a VIP lounge.
But Hilton's main contribution to the club might be little more than her name. Although Hilton reportedly signed a seven-figure contract to appear at the Orlando club at least twice a month, Khalilian told the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year that she hadn't appeared nearly that frequently.
That might be because the 25-year-old, jetsetting socialite has been busy promoting several commercial ventures. She was featured in House of Wax, a movie that opened last year, and she has two other films currently in post-production. She and former friend Nicole Richie have also starred in the Fox reality series The Simple Life, which challenged the pair to take part in the jobs of "normal" people across the country.
Before the media frenzy, Hilton made her name as the club-hopping heiress of the Hilton hotel chain family.
Khalilian also had promised to open the second Club Paris location in Miami, but the projected opening date came and went without a club opening because of hurricane-related delays.
According to Sleiman, if a club does open in Jacksonville, Hilton would attend the ribbon-cutting.
"To get that international name means a lot for Jacksonville," Sleiman said. "It's going to open eyes to get people to look seriously at this city."
Jon Koryak, general manager of Landing nightclub Deep Blue, said that although Club Paris will probably attract some of the same clientele as his spot, the two clubs should feed off each other.
Not definite yet
But both sides admit that it's not a sure thing. Soon after press inquiries, Khalilian's executive assistant updated the Club Paris Web site to reflect that negotiations were ongoing, but should be completed next week. He also added several other proposed locations, such as Knoxville, Tenn., Charlotte, Houston and Boston, along with a laundry list of additional international locations.
Sleiman said that Khalilian chose Jacksonville for a spot after popular locations, such as Miami, proved to be too saturated for a new club to be successful. Khalilian therefore looked to locations without much competition.
Club Paris isn't the only nightclub that Landing patrons might expect to hear about in the next few months.
Ashleigh Sleiman, leasing agent for Sleiman Enterprises, said that she is currently negotiating with two other nightclubs that might come to the Landing in the near future.
Owners of the two clubs, which have other locations nationally, are in preliminary negotiations and haven't decided on Jacksonville as a definite location, she said.
Although she wasn't sure that she would fit into Paris Hilton's scene, Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins said that the club owners' decision showed the city has the infrastructure necessary to support a vibrant nightlife.
Other city officials agreed -- tentatively.
"Club Paris is going to identify and uncover lots of possibilities for downtown entertainment," said Mayor's Office spokeswoman Susie Wiles.
But key to the city?
"It remains to be seen," she said.
joe.lightjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4689