Imagine Clearwater moves closer to downtown waterfront redo

Clearwater’s long standing desire to redevelop three city-owned downtown properties on the bluff overlooking Coachman Park and Clearwater Harbor is a step closer to reality. 

The city has picked a development team led by City Center Development Group, a Jupiter company whose president has local ties, as the developer for the old City Hall property, the former Harborview Center site, and a lot at Pierce Street and Osceola Avenue. If the two sides are able to successfully negotiate a developer’s agreement on issues such as incentives, public funding contributions and any city must-haves, the final decision will largely lie with Clearwater voters next March. 

A referendum is required for sale or lease of the City Hall and Harborview properties. That is not the case with the Pierce Street property, provided that the city gets appraised value for it. 

The redevelopment of the bluff and the reconstruction of Coachman Park in the Imagine Clearwater plan are the major pieces in city’s plan to energize and activate the downtown waterfront and attract both permanent residents and visitors to the urban core.

 In April, five development teams answered the city’s call for proposals for mixed-use developments that included residential, retail, restaurant and a hotel. That field whittled to two finalists with the City Council, following a staff recommendation, ultimately choosing the City Center Development Group team.

“We are optimistic about the quality of this team,” Delk says. “I think one thing that helped City Center stand out is they have developed projects together as a team. They have worked together in the past and had a successful history.”

GF Hotels & Resorts, which will manage a planned hotel, and the  principal of Clearwater Culture LLC, the company that will operate a planned food hall, are both working with City Center Development on Apopka City Center, a mixed-use project in Central Florida. TCII Capital, which will control ground-floor retail, restaurant and grocery space in a mixed-use building on the City Hall site, worked with City Center on that project and one in Orlando. The team also includes Wendover Housing Partners, which will develop workforce housing in the building on the City Hall site.


The 18,000-square-foot food hall, with a 4,500 square-foot rooftop terrace, is planned on the Harborview property. The developers’ vision includes a brewery, rooftop bar, pizza restaurant, bakery/deli and coffee and tea shop. A trio of Orlando-based restaurants -- Tin and Taco, Chicken Fire, and Smoke and Donuts Barbecue -- are already identified as tenants. The developers also propose a 400-space parking garage on the Harborview site for food hall patrons and the public.

The City Hall site is eyed for 207 units of workforce and affordable housing spread over seven floors above an integrated two-story garage. The ground floor will have a 20,000 square-foot grocer, 8,000 square feet of retail and a 6,000 square- foot restaurant overlooking the park.
 
Wendover has also contacted the Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoast about locating a small campus at the site for children from the building and the community.

On the Pierce Street site, the plan is a five- to six-story, 100-room hotel, most likely a Hilton.

Delk says staff plans to enter negotiations on a development agreement right away and have something to the City Council for a vote in August.

For Craig Govan, the president of the development team’s leader, City Center Development Group, a redevelopment project in Clearwater would represent a full circle journey.

“My personal knowledge of this site dates back to my childhood, having grown up in Clearwater and attended both Clearwater and Pinellas Park High Schools,” Govan writes in an introduction letter included in the team’s proposal. “While a senior at the University of Florida’s School of Building Construction, ironically we were required to estimate the overall construction costs of Clearwater City Hall! I’ve developed commercial and mixed-use properties across the Southeastern United States, but getting to help breathe new life into these downtown Clearwater sites would be a benchmark achievement for my career.”

To see a video about the property: 360 Views of Downtown Clearwater Bluff Properties

 

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.
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