CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Imagine Clearwater is the vision for the city’s future, but that vision is getting blurry.
The long-waited groundbreaking for the $64 million construction project has been postponed for now due to high construction costs.
The project is expected to transform downtown Clearwater by making upgrades to Coachman Park, including a 4,000-seat covered amphitheater and recreational spaces with walkways that connect the park to downtown and the intercoastal waterway, and an ocean-themed water play area.
But city officials tell 8 On Your Side that rising costs of construction commodities, like lumber, steel, and concrete forced them to postpone the ceremonial groundbreaking. Officials said the decision to postpone the event was made by the mayor and the city council during Thursday’s meeting.
“We do not have what’s called a GMP, a guaranteed maximum price, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to move forward until we have that GMP in hand,” Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said.
However, while the official groundbreaking ceremony has been postponed, the mayor says this does not delay their commitment to Imagine Clearwater.
“We are going to complete this project. There’s no debate about our commitment to finishing the project,” Hibbard added.
While the date for the groundbreaking ceremony is up in the air, city officials said the underground and utility work at Coachman Park has started and that work will continue.
The mayor is hoping to have a guaranteed maximum price for this project in July, with a groundbreaking ceremony possibly in August.