City council to vote on Imagine Clearwater project after $20M price increase

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — The Clearwater City Council will vote Thursday on whether to move ahead with a major plan to redevelop downtown.

The Imagine Clearwater project for Coachman Park was postponed in May after a sudden $20 million spike in material costs that raised concerns among city leaders worried about the final price tag. Mayor Frank Hibbard says he is not concerned.

“Not surprised. We’re seeing elevated construction costs everywhere,” Hibbard said.

The project was supposed to cost $64 million. The plan includes an amphitheater, a park, water features, and shade structures.

The rise in costs was due to materials and certain amenities added by the city council who feel that if it’s going to be a major project, they want to make sure it’s done right.

The initial phase is already underway, and the mayor tells 8 On Your Side they have enough to cover the $20 million increase, but they are still short $7 million. The mayor says he already knows how they plan to fill that gap.

“Beyond excited. This is what originally got me into politics 20 years ago. We had a referendum in 2000 that failed that would have redone Coachman Park and the bluff. We’ve been waiting 21 years. It’s about time. We’re going to get it done and finished. It’s going to be magnificent,” said Hibbard.

That vote is happening Thursday at 6 p.m. If councilmembers vote in favor of the project, it’s expected to be completed in July 2023.

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