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St. Cloud smash! Entrepreneur trying to open ‘rage room’ downtown

Above, participants break items in the Smash Room of Tampa. It has locations in Tampa and Lakeland. St. Cloud resident Nathan Green recently approached the St. Cloud City Council about opening a local venue.

Sometimes you just need to break something.

At least that’s the premise behind “rage rooms,” places where it’s OK to hit, smash throw and break miscellaneous objects to relieve some built-up tension after a long day at the office or a nasty breakup.

They’ve been popping-up across the country recently in places like Las Vegas and Miami. An aptly named one called Smash Room even opened in Lakeland in April.

Now, a young entrepreneur wants to bring the concept right to downtown St. Cloud.

Nathan Green went before the City Council Dec. 13 to request that city staff reconsider city guidelines he claimed pigeon-hole his destructive dream into a Highway Business and Commercial zoning designation.

Instead, he wants to open one right in downtown.

Green, a local U.S. Marine veteran and psychology student, has been developing his company named “Release” for about a year with business partner Gregory Zigon. Green said that rage rooms act more like nontraditional therapy sessions than just gimmick entertainment. Breaking things with a baseball bat may be able to help people relieve stress  and possibly even prevent instances of domestic violence, he said. Green also said he and his staff would also try to connect people with things like counseling services and support groups.

That’s why, Green stressed, his rage room should fall under less stringent zoning requirements similar to a spa or doctor’s office.

“A business that’s considered to be therapeutic is authorized to operate in the downtown business district of St. Cloud,” he said. “Now the question is, are rage rooms considered therapeutic? Is there a benefit to decompressing by means of physical expression?”

Green believes there is.

The St. Cloud resident said he wants to open somewhere downtown to increase visibility for his business. Hours of operation would vary in the beginning, but Green said he’d like for Release to be open seven days a week from noon to midnight.

He finished his presentation with a plea.

“This is my last hope of opening my business in our town,” he said. “To bring tourism, yes, but mainly to provide our community with a possible outlet for stress.”

St. Cloud City Council members seemed amused but intrigued by the pitch.

Councilmember Linette Matheny even mentioned seeing rage rooms featured on episodes of popular reality TV shows.

But Matheny also raised concerns over noise. After all, destroying dishes and TVs with sledgehammers isn’t exactly quiet work.

Green insisted the business would be sound proofed, though he didn’t specify how.

Other questions were raised about late-night appointments and liability issues.

Councilmember Dave Askew asked how local governments elsewhere have handled zoning for rage rooms.  

The Smash Room in Lakeland - which is the only other rage room in Central Florida - is zoned commercial.

“It’s such a new concept, people are having to go through what we are,” Green said. “It can vary.”

Still, the board seemed open and interested in helping Green. Askew even referred to the business as “a fantastic idea.”

Councilmember Keith Trace acknowledged some rather outdated zoning guidelines in the city’s code that could be revised.

“I think it’s something that could have a little more freedom,” Trace said. “This is the type of use that could be in multiple zoning districts, not just Highway Business and Commercial.”

Mayor Nathan Blackwell told Green to talk with the city manager to get the issue resolved.

“There’s definitely been some council meetings where I would have liked to go there after and work out,” Blackwell joked.

The mayor admitted Green’s idea is a strange business model, but then again, “there’s a lot of angry people out there.”