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Parking deck earns business $60K waiver
Waiver expected to have a $134.9 million impact
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CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council unanimously agreed on Jan. 16 to waive up to $60,000 in application, permit, inspection, examination and other fees in connection with the property at 2600/2650 McCormick Drive.

In return, the property’s owner, Skye Lane Properties, LLC, has agreed to include a tri-level parking deck in the proposed improvements to the property in the U.S. 19 corridor, where parking spaces are at a premium.

The city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan and its U.S. 19 Redevelopment Plan both recognize the need for more parking spaces in the U.S. 19 corridor, and authorize the city to grant financial incentives to companies that provide those parking spaces.

The goals of the EDSP are to encourage the development of sites and buildings that have the capacity to accommodate higher-density employment opportunities, develop the policies and means to make Clearwater competitive in the quest for new private investment and jobs, and promote an environment that is conducive to the vitality and growth of existing businesses.

The goals of the U.S. 19 Redevelopment Plan, which was adopted in December 2012, are to give offices and other employment–intensive uses preference over smaller-scale businesses in “in-between areas;” to recognize that prospective tenants may want more parking spaces, which are rare in the U.S. 19 corridor; and to support Clearwater’s use of indirect incentives, such as a reduction of permit fees, to advance the city’s economic development goals and improve the corridor’s competitive position in relation to other locations in the Tampa Bay Area.

“The proposed project is consistent with the goals and recommendations of both of those plans,” Denise Anderson, the city’s Assistant Director of Economic and Housing, told the council at its Jan. 16 meeting.”

Skye Lane bought its property in April 2012 and plans a $5.9 million upgrade, with the parking deck accounting for $4 million of that. When completed, the property will have approximately 725 parking spaces.

“The property will meet market demand, making this a prime Class A office destination for what was 50 percent vacant nearly one year ago,” a staff memo to the council said. And it’s already showing results.

Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Company will bring 54 employees to the property from its current corporate headquarters in St. Petersburg, and will add 11 new jobs at the Clearwater location this year. Those jobs will pay an average of $87,000 per year, which is 208 percent of the Pinellas County average. In addition, 10 or more consultants who work with Heritage Property will relocate to the Clearwater site.

Marine Max, Inc., will relocate 99 employees from its current headquarters location in Clearwater to the McCormick Drive location, and will add 30 new jobs in the next three years. Those jobs will pay more than $65,000 a year, which is 155 percent of the Pinellas County average.

City staffers have conducted a study of the impact that Skye Lane and its related company, Heritage Property will have, and predict that the economic impact from those two businesses alone, without considering the other tenants at the location, will be $134.9 million over the next ten years. In addition, the project is expected to indirectly produce another 160 jobs and bring $229,327 of direct benefits to the city.

"This is exactly the kind of incentive packag that is going to take us down the road to future prosperity,” Councilmember Jay Polglaze said. “These are exactly the kind of companies we want to lure.”
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