WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Sunset Lounge is one of the big projects for the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, which pumped in nearly $20 million of taxpayer dollars to buy the land and renovate the old music venue.
Sunset Lounge was once a cultural hub of the Palm Beach County Black community, hosting the likes of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.
In June, the local-based minority-owned business Vita Lounge LLC. was chosen to operate the 150-seat supper club. The city though had not finalized the deal.
The city said Vita Lounge "blatantly violated" an ordinance against lobbying for the contract through Facebook posts and emails.
Mayor Keith James said in a statement: "Everyone must follow the same rules."
A lawyer for Vita Lounge LLC. responded to the city saying cobbling together Facebook posts does not constitute illegal lobbying. He demanded the city retract the disqualification.
James insists despite the setback, the future for the Sunset Lounge "remains very bright."