CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Clearwater Beach may be bustling, but just over the bridge, it’s a different story.
“We’re behind, we’re behind St. Petersburg and Tampa,” said Mayor Frank Hibbard.
Hibbard says the transformation of Coachman Park will help, and he’s hoping a proposed $400 million development of two bluff parcels downtown will turn it into a top destination.
“We sit on a 35-foot bluff. This is a wonderful opportunity to really get started in downtown and make sure downtown is self-supportive,” Hibbard added.
In August, the City of Clearwater approved a proposal for developments at the former city hall site, which sits vacant, and the now-demolished Harborview site.
The former city hall building would be torn down to build two, 27-story towers with 500-600 apartments, five or six restaurants and retail space.
Plans for the Harborview site include a 13-story hotel with thousands of square feet in commercial space, a conference center, rooftop bar and beer garden.
“This is a $400 million project and in year one, the taxes will be nearly $7 million going to the school system, the city and the county. That’s real good economic development,” Hibbard said.
Hibbard says he constantly hears from residents who are concerned about parking. He said the project includes an underground garage for those living at the apartments, as well as additional parking spots.
Now it’s up to voters to decide the project’s fate. Clearwater voters will see the referendum at the bottom of the ballot when they vote in the general election.
“We cannot afford to lose another decade the way we did with a 2000 referendum that failed,” Hibbard said.