Monday, October 5, 2015

Hallmark / Levin / Fear City Nights

The story you will see detailed in this post detail the path that has led to a worthy not for profit being used, a profiteer failing to do his required due diligence and a prominent local attorney attempting to coerce the Fire Marshal to break the law for him.


Fear City Nights LLC is a for profit business that operates haunted houses through not for profits annually in various places.  The Company is owned by Russell Paul of Pace.

Fear City Nights LLC Sunbiz Data

In previous years, they have held haunted houses in the building across from Seville Quarter and in the old (now demolished) PNJ building.

Fear City Nights provides the scary stuff and the not for profit provides manpower.

This year, Fear City Nights was partnering with Gulf Coast Baseball Committee Inc., a Florida not for profit founded by many former professional baseball players and possibly the best family practitioner doctor in Pensacola, to put on the haunted house.

Gulf Coast Baseball Committee Inc. was going to use the funds raised by the endeavor to support Omega Gym Cheer and fund expenses for baseball equipment and fields in Escambia County.

The group was in need of a location for their haunted house and was referred to 349 LLC, which owns the old Hallmark Elementary School.

Well, if you have ever read my blog you already know that 349 LLC was founded by:

  • Fred Levin
  • Matt Pair
  • Fred Vigodsky and
  • Mayor Hayward
to develop the school as an assisted living facility.

You also already know that the owners have let the building fall into a state of dereliction to the point that numerous code violations have been brought by the city against the building for over a year.

The Situation

Fear City Nights has historically followed a process in that the owner contacted the Fire Marshal to discuss the proposed site and it's use as a haunted house.  However, this year no contact was made with the Fire Marshal to inspect the site and discuss Hallmark School. 

Once permission to use the school was obtained from the owner, 349 LLC:

"at least 20 volunteers working in and around the building who have expended some  2,000 hours of work readying the haunted house. This work includes but is not limited to:

  • Cleaning up trash in and around the buildings,
  • fixing and bringing up to code the fire alarm system
  • fixing the exit lights
  • fixing all of the perimeter lights around the outside of the property
  • fixing air conditioning systems
  • as well as putting up the haunted house

The Hallmark School location was to have 3 separate haunted houses in three different buildings and none of these plans were presented to the Fire Marshall in advance of construction. Construction was undertaken without asking one single question of the City of Pensacola.  

Why the change?   Did Fear City Nights believe they no longer needed Fire Marshal approval?  Were they told not to follow the established process for inspection and approval?

Apparently, it would take a week to write up the code violations and fire issues per State of Florida law...yet here is the most important and life threatening issue. 

From National Fire Protection Association 101 2012

A. Special Amusement Building - Special amusement buildings include amusements such as a haunted house, a roller coaster-type ride within a building, a multi-level play structure within a building, a submarine ride, and similar amusements where the occupants are not in the open air.

Are we clear so far? Automatic Sprinklers.  Every special amusement building, other than buildings or structures no exceeding 10 ft in height and not exceeding 160 sq ft in aggregate horizontal projection, shall be protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system installed and maintained in accordance with Section 9.7.

Seems clear to me!

Guess what Hallmark Elementary School does not have?

Yep...Sprinkler system.

So what will come of the haunted house plans.  The letter below details the results.

Access Prohibited

So who is at fault?

Responsibility for managing the compliance process for the production rests solely with Russell Paul of Fear City Nights.  


  • Why didn't Paul get approval from the Fire Marshall prior to construction of the haunted house as he had done every time in previous years?
  • Was Paul told he didn't need to worry about approval by "one of the owners"?
  • What recourse does the NFP that has clearly been used by the building owner's  to correct their obvious code violations and the haunted house promoter have to recover their costs to date?
  • Can the NFP recover and find another location in time to have the fundraiser?
But this is Pensacola!  When super heroes aren't around and the situation seems dim, who do you call?

Check back later today.


Anonymous said...

Call Uncle Freddie

Anonymous said...

Children volunteers were repairing air conditioning units, exit signs, and other electrical items? It was required by law to be done by a licensed contractor with permits issued. Did the Mayor also tell them that they didn't need permits? So, thousands of people would have gone through this haunted house and been at risk? Way to go City Hall.

Anonymous said...

This is a commercial property and the Owner of the building is required to hire PROFESSIONALS to complete the work with a required building permit.

Bill Weeks will have record of which company pulled the permits and who completed the work. Permits must be pulled prior to starting the work.

Permits arent free.

Follow the money.....

blew said...

anybody know a good personal injury attorney in case someone gets injured in the haunted house? Talk about drumming up business.