HAYWARD — As it stands, 926 B St. is a pretty low-key building.
A wall of old, mortar-oozing brick doubles as the rear border of Newman Park, and along the street, a little cell phone shop is the sole tenant. But behind the counter and beneath the floor, there's 10,700 square feet of space waiting for someone to come fill it up.
Building owner Dinesh Shah said he's found the ideal tenant: a downtown restaurant that would turn into a 21-and-over nightclub two nights a week.
"They want to do it, and do it right," said Shah, who bought the building in 2005 in hopes of finding investors who shared his vision of helping revitalize downtown.
Then the economy tanked, and he's been manning the counter at the cell phone store ever since.
Enter Starzz Management Services.
The plan: A family restaurant, with lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends. Sundays would be for family entertainment and televised sports.
A transformation would occur at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Out with the diners and in with the clubbers — Club ME would offer a hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues venue for those 21 and over.
"This would be the kind of night-life entertainment venue that the city needs to bring more people downtown," said Sean Brooks, Hayward's economic development manager.
A staff report recommends that the Planning Commission send the plan along to the City Council with a stamp of approval.
The commission will take it up Thursday night, discussing the restaurant and nightclub permit as well as a code amendment that would allow alcohol to be sold within 100 feet of a park.
The idea doesn't bode well with Linda Pratt, program director of CommPre, a division of Horizon Services that deals with preventing alcohol-related problems in communities.
"We are definitely in support of a full-service restaurant, but it is the nightclub use that we oppose," said Pratt. "It poses the greatest risk of bringing violence and other crimes to the downtown area."
Pratt said the space potentially could hold 500 clubgoers, and "mix that with the overconsumption of alcohol and it will lead to fights, public intoxication, DUIs and all of those alcohol-related community problems."
Richard Patenaude, the city's planning manager, said conditions for approval include a police-approved security plan for the club and surrounding area, including supervision of the park. The permit also would come up for review in a year, at which time staff could add conditions or start the process to revoke it.
The city previously rejected nightclubs in the downtown area.
In 2001, plans to convert the old bank building at B and Main streets into "Club Velvet" was denied because of its evening-only hours.
"It was a limited type of use," Patenaude said. "We wanted a use that would bring activity in the downtown that's not limited to certain, specific times."
Starzz representatives could not be reached for comment. Patenaude said Starzz is run by a Hayward couple who have managed venues in Atlanta and Dallas, as well as several restaurants and clubs on military bases.
Shah said he could imagine the restaurant being a step in a direction that would make downtown Hayward a destination for foodies, a la Castro Street in Mountain View.
"See the buildings there, everything is exactly the same as here," he said. "When I look out at the street, I can see it. People walking here, there, going to a restaurant, having a few drinks. What could be better for the area?"