CLEARWATER – In efforts to attract more restaurants and breweries to downtown Clearwater, the Community Redevelopment Agency will now offer a new program that offers funding of up to $250,000 to commercial property owners and tenants looking to open such a business.
The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program was approved by city council members on May 12 during a meeting of the CRA at city hall.
CRA executive director Seth Taylor appeared before the council seeking approval of the program.
“I’m very excited to be presenting this program today,” Taylor said, adding that the program has been months in the making and includes input from civic, business and government sectors.
According to Taylor, the program will provide loan to grant funding to commercial property owners and commercial tenants to assist with interior building improvements, as well as business start up costs such as furniture, fixtures and equipment.
“The goal of the program is primarily to incentivize anchor restaurants and breweries – food and drink establishments – to open downtown, which in turn will help stimulate our local economy and improve quality of life for Clearwater residents and visitors,” Taylor said. “It’s important to note that the program directly promotes the goals and objectives of our downtown redevelopment plan.”
Some of the objectives of that program include attracting high quality restaurants and breweries to the downtown corridor; improving the appearance of downtown commercial buildings; increasing downtown commercial occupancy rate and property values; and promoting Clearwater’s downtown revitalization as a waterfront dining and entertainment destination.
Taylor cited the growth of breweries in the Tampa area and the successful revitalization of neighborhoods there as a main reason the city is focusing on the industry.
Taylor said that although the program primarily targets food and drink establishments, should other businesses outside of the industry approach the city, those requests would be considered.
“We will certainly meet with them and go through their business plan,” Taylor said. “They are certainly eligible to participate in this program.”
According to the program guidelines, the term of the loan will be five years and for each year the business is in operation, 20 percent of the loan will be forgiven. At the end of five years, should the business remain open, the loan will be forgiven in its entirety and will be converted into a grant.
Applications for the program will be reviewed by city staff and upon recommendation, approved by city council members.
Logan Mosby is editor of the Clearwater Beacon. She can be reached at lmosby@TBNweekly.com or by calling 727-397-5563, ext. 304.