Clearwater’s downtown waterfront is closer than ever to receiving a much-needed facelift, says Seth Taylor, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency director.
Imagine Clearwater, a community-focused visioning and master planning effort to revitalize the waterfront and bluff, will present its new vision for the area at two public workshops set for Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Countryside Library, 2642 Sabal Springs Dr., and Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Clearwater Main Library, 100 North Osceola Ave.
New York City-based HR&A Advisors, which specializes in urban development, and Sasaki, an international architecture firm, has been hired by the city as consultants for the redevelopment project. The city has set aside $400,000 for consultation alone, Taylor says.
HR&A and Sasaki have been “working to create a new vision for our downtown waterfront, which is one of our biggest assets in Clearwater and certainly in downtown Clearwater,” he says.
The area, which includes around 50 acres, runs from Drew Street north to Court Street and from the waterfront west to Osceola Avenue.
Taylor says two factions have risen up in the community: those who desire “a natural, passive open space” for the waterfront and residents who wish to see “a more active, intensively programmed space.”
He adds, “We’re trying to strike a balance between the two. Ultimately, it’s about getting people to visit downtown Clearwater and enjoy their time there.”
Currently, the area is underutilized, he says, adding that while it is home to Coachman Park, which hosts a number of events throughout the year, there are more possibilities for the space.
While Imagine Clearwater’s vision will include commercial uses, green space and activities for children, the community should also expect to see a suggested residential component, Taylor says.
“The key to revitalization is we need more housing downtown, we need more people who live and work there,” he says. “So there will be a recommendation for more housing along the waterfront and bluff.”
There is no timeframe or budget set for the project yet. Both will be determined by the final version of the project approved by the City Council down the road, Taylor says.
“But the will is there to implement this plan both from the elected leaders and the civic and community groups,” he says.
Those interested in learning more about the project should follow this link to the Imagine Clearwater website