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Downtown Clearwater Coming Alive

Downtown Clearwater was once a place people passed through on their way to the waterfront marina, businesses and facilities on Clearwater Beach. No more.

Live entertainment, outdoor events and new shops and restaurants on Cleveland Street are revitalizing this downtown and attracting residents and tourists looking for a unique urban Florida experience.

The Clearwater Downtown Partnership, which promotes downtown development, has spearheaded a successful line of events that are called 4th Friday and held on the fourth Friday of every month.  This has brought an average of 1,500 people to downtown Clearwater each month during the past year that has spurred on new businesses –  Café Supreme, La Cachette and Divino's.

It has also attracted corporate attention. Three Tampa Bay area companies -- Baldwin Connelly, Carlisle Fields & Company and Nichols Insurance -- merged to become part of the Baldwin Connelly Family of Companies, which established its new headquarters in downtown Clearwater.

"This past December we had 5,000 people to our Miracle on Cleveland Street event. It's been great," says Partnership executive board member Karla Jo Helms.

The Miracle event included tons of manufactured snow for children to sled and play in. Earlier in the year at a 4th Friday event, Rock icon Todd Rundgren performed at the historic 451-seat Capitol Theatre, which the city is renovating.

Those kind of events, and the attention the city is paying to downtown, helped attract investors for businesses such as Divino's.

Divino's is the product of an Italian and a Russian investor who took over an abandoned former movie theater downtown. They completely transformed it into an Italian restaurant similar to piazas, or public gathering places, in Italy.

So Divino's removed an eyesore and replaced it with a unique business.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

Source: Karla Jo Helms, Clearwater Downtown Partnership




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