CLEARWATER — The developers of the Opal Sands want to build an elevated pedestrian bridge that would link the large luxury hotel on Clearwater Beach to another hotel they plan to build on the other side of South Gulfview Boulevard.
It was not the only change to an existing development agreement developer Mark Walsh requested from the city council on Nov. 7. His lawyers also asked permission to increase the number of hotel rooms in the proposed hotel from 227 to 248 units at the council hearing.
The covered bridge would allow hotel guests on the east side of Gulfview Boulevard to cross above the busy thoroughfare to the Opal Sands Resort. The transparent structure, which will be 26 feet above the sidewalk on the east side of South Gulfview Boulevard, rises to about 33 feet above the sidewalk at the Opal Sands street entrance. It will provide guests on both sides easy access to the beach and businesses, as well as improve convention activity in the hotels, Katy Cole, Walsh’s attorney, told the council.
Walsh, builder of the Opal Sands, has already won permission to build the 166-foot-tall Alanik Hotel on the other side of the boulevard, but now wants to add the walkway to link the properties. Investors in the project include Triprop Clearwater, Anco Holdings, and Nikana Holdings. Once complete, the project will combine the properties at 401, 411, 421, 425 and 431 South Gulfview Blvd., the developer’s plans show.
The pedestrian bridge requires the city to grant the developer an easement for air rights, which it could do on Nov. 21, when the city will hold a second public hearing on the changes.
Michael Frangedis, who owns 437 South Gulfview Blvd., which is leased by Salty’s Island Bar & Grill, addressed the council on behalf “of my property’s interest and future.”
Frangedis, who said he was not opposed to the project, worried that the elevated walkway might block the views that Salty’s bar patrons enjoy. “They go there to see the sunsets, to see the views,” he told the council.
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos told Frangedis, “You aren’t guaranteed a view, so we can’t use that as a judgment to deny or approve a (development) request.”
Another surprise: Walsh and his partners finalized the purchase of Post Corner Pizza at 431 South Gulfview Blvd. between Monday’s council work session and Thursday evening’s regular council meeting. The pizza shop has been a landmark on Clearwater Beach since John Sofranas and his wife Kathy, founded the business in 1971. They sold the business to Peter Kousidis some years ago.
Walsh and his partners have guaranteed a minimum of 230 new parking spaces for the public, Cole told the council. One hundred hotel rooms for the project are allocated from the Hotel Density Reserve.
The Alanik is not the only hotel proposed for that stretch of beach. A new seven-story, 88-room hotel is slated for the property at 355 South Gulfview Blvd., a block or so north of the proposed Alinik Motel. The BeachWalk Inn, which is on that site now, is undergoing demolition. On Nov. 5, a pair of excavators could be seen removing the remaining sections of the aging motel, 10 months after a ceiling collapsed on guests in an upper-floor hotel room.
BeachWalk Inn’s owners, Gulfview Lodging Inc., received site approval for a new hotel from the City Council on July 17.