New Shops, Cafes Open In Downtown Clearwater

Once simply a route to Clearwater Beach, a newly revamped Cleveland Street is emerging into a destination on its own.

The City of Clearwater has realized its three-pronged plan to transform Cleveland Street from a sleepy downtown thoroughfare to the beach to a downtown district. Cleveland Street runs from Drew Street just north of Route 60 to just shy of the Intercoastal Waterway.

The city's strategy for improvements includes new and upgraded infrastructure, residential development and events to bring people downtown, according to Geraldine Lopez of Clearwater's Economic Development and Housing Department.

"We needed to give people a reason to come downtown," Lopez says. "We did studies that gave us ideas -- like a sidewalk café district. So a lot of our incentives and programs surround recruiting restaurants and cafes. We also revisited our branding and logo. Instead of calling this area downtown Clearwater, we're calling it the Cleveland Street District.''

Lopez says a number of businesses recently opened on Cleveland Street, including Casanova Restaurant & Lounge, the Hot Spot Café and I Care Medical Supply. Expanded businesses include Tony's Pizzeria and Peter Gillham's Nutrition Center, which expanded to two businesses: Gillham's Naturals and Green Organic Food & Wine Bar.

New residential options include The Strand, Station Square and Water's Edge. Infrastructure improvements include boat slips along the downtown waterfront and an improved streetscape that includes public art.

"We have been focused on redeveloping downtown for the last 10 years," Lopez says  "For a number of years, you had to go down Cleveland to get to Clearwater Beach. But with the new bridge, traffic shifted away from Cleveland. Now people have a reason to go downtown."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Geraldine Lopez, City of Clearwater

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