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Clearwater to rebid long-awaited downtown market project

Veronica Brezina



A rendering of The Mercado, an envisioned open-air gathering space in Clearwater. All images: Screengrabs.

A triangular piece of property in downtown Clearwater’s Gateway area remains vacant, but might become a public market anchoring the community.

City officials identified the property where Cleveland Street meets Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard as the home of The Mercado, an open-air gathering space for farmer’s markets, movie nights and other events. The Mercado is also envisioned to host events for the neighborhood’s Hispanic population; however, a large price tag is stalling the project. 

“I would like to go back to bid,” project manager Catherine Corcoran said during a Sept. 18 Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency meeting. 

Corcoran, who has worked on the Coachman Park redevelopment and Cleveland Avenue landscaping project, said she received a significantly higher-than-anticipated cost estimate for the project, which entails the construction of a shade structure and a turf yard. 

The Mercado project was originally going to start in 2021. 

Although questioned by a commissioner about the estimated cost, Corcoran declined to share it, saying the procurement and legal departments advised her to not disclose the figure for competitive reasons. 

She said the engineering department and CRA Director Jaye Matthews are supportive of re-bidding the project to see if there’s a more cost-effective solution.

The new bid invitation will go live in the first week of October. It will be open for 30 days. Corcoran plans to bring the item to the trustees after the pricing is confirmed. 

A rendering of the pinwheel-like shade structure for The Mercado.

USA Shade, a subcontractor for the project, may have its contract transferred in the new agreement.

To date, the city has spent $90,000 towards the pinwheel-like shade structure, as a deposit and final engineering were required. Cocoran said it still fits into the budget cleared by the trustees in 2021. 

Corcoran said she would also like to see lighting installed by Duke, and sod on the property to avoid stormwater and flooding issues. 

The city has also previously allocated $75,000 in the budget to work with artist to create and install mosaic tile at The Mercado. 

The artist will be responsible for artwork design, fabrication, materials, installation, insurance, travel, public presentations, meetings with City of Clearwater staff as necessary, identification plaque and all related incidental expenses, according to the city’s website. 

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