CLEARWATER – Clearwater city leaders took the next step in redeveloping its downtown waterfront when council members on Feb. 2 accepted a finalized master plan developed by urban development consultants in coordination with city staff.
The culmination of more than six months work that included a number of community workshops to gather suggestions and feedback from residents, the downtown waterfront master plan calls for a dramatic redevelopment of an area that was identified in 2014 by the Urban Land Institute as one of the city’s greatest and least utilized assets.
“This plan is constructed on various threads of consistent themes that our consultant team has integrated into a cohesive vision of expanded open space, improved accommodation of community events, greatly enhanced and more interactive waterfront access and establishment of an economically vibrant active edge that is mindful of and respects the permanent special place for Clearwater and our region that is Coachman Park,” said Planning and Development Director Michael Delk. “We’ve established a commitment to engage the citizens of Clearwater in the process in determining their priorities and aspirations for this extraordinary but underutilized public space.”
The 10-year, long-term plan includes a variety of strategies that would help develop the waterfront to its full potential.
The first is the creation of a dynamic public waterfront open space that would include a unique destination, a variety of active and passive spaces and year-round community programming.
Fostering an active frame around Coachman Park to attract park users that would include the introduction of new amenities as well increased safety is the second strategy consultants recommended.
Strengthening Osceola Avenue by creating a park gateway that spurs development activity is vital to bringing more people downtown, they said.
Other recommendations in the plan include demolition of the Harborview Center, relocation of city hall and the creation of a waterfront cafe and rooftop event space at the Clearwater Main Library. The plan also calls for incentives to create high- and low-rise mixed-use development that includes rental and retail properties.
A draft plan was presented to council in November and as result of additional council and resident feedback, consultants with HR&A added a number of extra features to the plan, including creation of 74 additional parking spaces; water-based programming that will include a splash pad, rain catcher fountain and children's water play area; new restroom facilities; and adjustment and relocation of the bandshell.
Implementation of the plan would be carried out in two phases.
Phase one elements would include removal of surface parking, design and construction of park elements north of Cleveland Street, demolition of the Harborview Center and solicitation of redevelopment proposals, construction of a civic gateway, planning and development of a library cafe or restaurant and the redevelopment of private lots.
Phase two calls for expansion of the park south of Cleveland Street, including expansion of the bluff walk to the south, relocation of city hall and the solicitation of redevelopment proposals.
Launch of Phase 1 could be expected in 2019, with Phase 2 launching five years later.
City staff recommended council schedule a special meeting upon acceptance of the plan to discuss the master plan and its recommendations.