A brief history of Plymouth's Dance Academy/Palace Theatre and the case surrounding its current owner
ORIGINALLY built for the Livermore Brothers, the Palace Theatre opened in 1898 as a music hall.
The Grade II listed building played host to entertainment greats such as Gracie Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Frankie Howerd.
In 1997 Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh purchased the building, which by then had become extremely dilapidated, for £550,000.
Over the next seven years the Dance Academy became the largest and most popular nightclub in the South West attracting superstar trance and hard house DJs like Judge Jules, Lisa Lashes and Sasha.
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However, according to police, by 2005 local and northern drug gangs began to infiltrate the venue, selling class A drugs to revellers. A six-month undercover operation – Operation Jonamac – was launched and on May 6, 2006, the venue was raided and closed.
Court cases which followed saw 13 dealers sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 12 months to four-and-a-half years.
In July 2008 DJ and general manager Tom Costelloe was jailed for five years, while Mr Bahmanzadeh was jailed for nine years on the joint charge of permitting the premises to be used for the supply of Class A drugs.
Mr Bahmanzadeh was ordered to pay a £1million Proceeds of Crime Act bill – although The Herald later revealed that £950,730 of it was retained by the State of Jersey after a legal wrangle with the British Government.
He attempted to overturn his conviction last year at the Court of Appeal, but failed.
He did, however, see his sentence reduced to seven-and-a-half years.
The building, which is on the 'at risk' lists of English Heritage, the Theatres Trust, and the Victorian Society, is described as being in elaborate Flemish Renaissance style, blending Art Nouveau with military motifs and scenes of the Spanish Armada.
The Theatres Trust once said it was "fantastic and opulent" and "one of Plymouth's best surviving Victorian buildings."