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Clearwater progresses on amphitheater development

Veronica Brezina

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Imagine Clearwater rendering. Frontier Communications will install a public Wi-Fi and communications platform downtown that will connect to the project. Image: Stantec.

The $83 million vision of a connected downtown waterfront park and amphitheater is coming closer into view. 

During a host of city meetings on Monday, the City of Clearwater staff received an update on the construction of the 22-acre Imagine Clearwater development, which will transform Coachman Park anchored by a new amphitheater. They also reviewed a development agreement pertaining to two bluff properties that would link to the park. 

General contractor Skanska Inc. informed the city staff that the overall project is 44% complete and has racked up $30.5 million in costs thus far. 

There were some unforeseen infrastructure costs; however, the underground utilities and plumbing are completed. The foundation for the amphitheater is also completed and the canopy will be erected in the first week of August. 

The development is expected to be fully completed and open by July 2023.

Meanwhile, the city council members briefly reviewed a development agreement with The Bluffs group, consisting of New York-based Gotham Property Acquisitions LLC and the locally-based firm The DeNunzio Group, which was selected for the redevelopment of the former 2.6-acre City Hall and the 1.43-acre Harborview sites abutting Coachman Park.

A rendering from The Bluffs group of the buildings proposed for the Clearwater sites. Image: The Bluffs/ City of Clearwater.

The city selected the group’s proposal after reviewing two other offers. The team is proposing to transform the Harborview site into a 13-story, 158-unit hotel with adjoining commercial buildings, and underground parking. The former City Hall site would then would feature two 27-story towers with at least 500 residential units and 40,000 square feet of commercial uses. 

The Bluffs group is offering to buy the former City Hall site for $15.4 million and the Harborview Center for $9.3 million.

Under the development agreement, the city would be responsible for demolishing the City Hall building and would perform any needed environmental remediation. The developer and city would also share the cost of developing a pedestrian bridge that would connect to Coachman Park. 

The Bluffs’ development agreement will be reviewed in-depth by the Clearwater City Council Thursday along with a $1.5 million request from seeking funds through the Community Redevelopment Agency tax increment financing (TIF) funds to pay for impact fees and in fees. The reimbursement would go into an escrow until the impact fees become due. 

However, to purchase the city-owned sites, the request must be included in a referendum for residents to decide its fate. 

The ballot language council agreed to put before voters on Nov. 8 reads:

Shall the Clearwater City Charter be amended to allow the City, instead of selling the vacant City Hall and a portion of the former Harborview sites to the highest bidder at a public auction, to sell the properties to Gotham Property Acquisitions and The DeNunzio Group; who will create approximately 600 apartments and 158-key hotel, retail, entertainment, restaurants and cultural uses available to all Clearwater residents, as further described and limited by City Ordinance 9597-22?

If approved by voters, the city can then enter an agreement with the developer. 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lisa Lanza

    July 18, 2022at7:53 pm

    City Council meeting 5/16/22
    Item 4.1 at 9:58am

    See the presentation by the Vinik Group to manage the downtown waterfront park which was supported by city staff and was the best option, in my opinion.

    However the majority of Clearwater Council members voted for Ruth Eckerd Hall to manage the amphitheater.

    Not sure who is going to manage activities in the park.

    This coming Saturday there is a meeting at the Downtown Library at 9 am in the board room on the second floor, if you want to know more.

  2. Avatar

    truth

    July 19, 2022at9:39 am

    Guess who used to be on Ruth eckerds board of directors? Who met with the developers 6 weeks before they won the bid for the 2 pieces of property on the bluff above the park ??? Hmmmm…

  3. Avatar

    Lisa

    August 23, 2022at1:25 am

    Truth

    Why don’t you use your real name? What/who are you afraid of?

    Check out the Florida Ethics Commission website. Are you insinuating that there is unethical behavior in play?

  4. Avatar

    Lisa

    August 23, 2022at1:38 am

    Please review the Development Agreement. To my knowledge the city is giving $milliinz to the developer for the construction of the underground cparking.

    Last week city council agreed to increase the residents storm water fee by 1.75% and our city sewage, trash and water utility fees by 3% for the next 5 years.

    Stantek was the hired consultant which made the recommendedation to increase our fees.

    City elected officials and city manager have always told us that development helps to keep our taxes low.

    City never mentions that development causes our city fees to increase or that our utility fees are taxed 10%.

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