This is the legal sketch of the Evergreen Avenue area and the parcels to be acquired by the city.
CLEARWATER – Revitalizing the Clearwater’s rundown East Gateway district is high on city officials’ to-do list.
And on March 15, the Clearwater City Council took a step in that direction by approving the purchase of a 6,300-square-foot property at 14 South Evergreen Ave., adjacent to the Car Pro property that the city bought in August 2010 “for the purposes of environmental remediation and potential future redevelopment.”
The 12,000-square-foot Car Pro site, at 1359 Cleveland St., was purchased with money from a federal Environmental Protection Agency “brownfield” grant. Brownfields are defined as former industrial sites that are too polluted for further use without remediation of the pollutants.
After years of automotive use, the Car Pro site was contaminated with motor oil, antifreeze and other automotive fluids. The city contracted with Cardno TBE to do the cleanup, which is still ongoing.
Recently, the owner of the four parcels south of the Car Pro property died and his family decided to sell Parcels 19 and 20, totaling 6.300 square feet, adjacent to and south of the eastern half of the Car Pro site. On March 15, Gerri Campos Lopez, the city’s director of economic development and housing, sought the City Council’s permission to buy those parcels for $135,000, with closing costs not to exceed $10,000. The money will come from a federal
Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.
“As you know, one of our key priorities is the East Gateway district,” Lopez reminded the council members. “These are funds that we have, and we have deadlines for spending them.”
But Mayor George Cretekos wondered about the strange shape that would be created when the rectangular Parcels 19 and 20 were added to one corner of the square Car Pro site.
“We have a square and now we’re making an L,” he said.
Lopez replied that she is hoping to buy parcels 17 and 18, which would give the city an even bigger square. But those parcels cannot be sold until the pollution on them is cleaned up. Unlike Parcels 17 and 18, which are lower than the Car Pro site and get the contaminated runoff from it, Parcels 19 and 20 are pollution-free because they are higher than the Car Pro site.
Lopez said that there is a one-story office building on Parcels 19 and 20 that is in fairly good condition, and the city might lease it out until officials are ready to do something with the entire property. She estimated that it would take 18 to 24 months before the entire property is purchased and ready for redevelopment.
Mayor Cretekos asked Lopez why, if it makes sense for the city to redevelop the property, a private developer hasn’t already done it. She replied that no private developer would want to touch the property because of the environmental issues. Lopez added that “the entire area will be much more marketable” once the contamination from the Car Pro site has been cleaned up.
The council unanimously gave Lopez the go-ahead to buy Parcels 19 and 20, and implied that it would also approve the purchase of Parcels 17 and 18 when they become available.