razed harborview center

The site of the razed Harborview Center is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in downtown Clearwater, so the City Council wants help finding the right developer for the property.

CLEARWATER — A company that will help the city market three key Imagine Clearwater properties to developers suggests building multifamily residences and retail space along the bluff overlooking Coachman Park.

The City Council gave interim Assistant City Manager Michael Delk the go-ahead June 18 to engage real estate and economic development consultants HR&A Advisors Inc. to help the city find buyers and developers through a request for proposal (RFP) process.

HR&A already worked for the city; it developed the financial analysis, the comprehensive plan and other groundwork for Imagine Clearwater several years ago.

Delk said it’s time for the city to seek buyers for the properties.

“We need a professional company to design the RFP, target it out to get the kinds of responses we need,” he said. “We want to get the RFP on the street as soon as we can to market the property.”

The parcels are considered some of the most valuable in Clearwater. Situated on a bluff with a view of the park and the Intracoastal Waterway, the parcels include the lot where the Harborview Center was knocked down; the site of the former City Hall, which has yet to be razed; and a large empty lot next to City Hall, at the southwest corner of Osceola Avenue and Pierce Street.

“We have several million dollars’ worth of real estate along the bluff,” Delk told the council. “That’s a lot of investment potential for us and a big stake for us.”

In its document, HR&A suggests developing RFPs that attract developers of “new multifamily residential and ground-floor retail space.”

HR&A states in its proposal that leasing the land and developing condos, townhouses, or other multifamily dwellings and retail storefronts will meet Imagine Clearwater’s goal of improving the city’s vitality, create revenue that can pay for the operations and maintenance of a redesigned Coachman Park, and meet the city’s high-quality design standards for development in downtown Clearwater.

The consultants also suggest the RFPs seeking regional developers should reflect market demand and consider the kinds of revenue various kinds of development can generate.

The 22-page proposal from HR&A outlines how the company will research and write RFPs to target specific kinds of builders and other tasks for which it will charge the city $100,000. The consultants are to perform due diligence of RFP respondents, develop a scoring matrix to evaluate developer proposals, and help the city interview finalists. The company will provide “negotiation and transaction support until the final step, entering into a deal,” Delk told the council.

Clearwater Mayor George N. Cretekos urged Delk to keep the city on schedule, noting the company can charge more for work outside the scope of the agreement.

“Any extension of the schedule beyond an additional month may result in additional fees to the city on a time and material basis,” Cretekos said. “That can get very expensive, council, because they bill from $100 to $535 an hour.”

The HR&A proposal has many working parts. The consultants, for instance, will work with Stantec engineering architects to develop drawings and other documents to support the RFP and create a marketing strategy to convince the public to back a referendum to develop the property.

Delk, who also serves as the city’s planning director, told the council that “about 50 percent” of the consultant’s work will be to update its market analysis for Imagine Clearwater.

“It’s been a busy several years since HR&A did the original economic analysis in 2016 and we just need to update that work order, which is stale by about three years,” he told the Beacon.

The new economic analysis should be finished in the next 60 days, Delk said, while suggesting the city wait until after March 17, 2020 to put a referendum before the voters. That’s the day Clearwater voters go to the polls to elect two new City Council members and a mayor. It’s also the presidential preference primary election in Florida.

“In talking with the council and others, I’m not sure if that is the best time for that matter to go before the voters,” Delk said.

He suggested Aug 25, 2020, which is primary election day for party nominees to fill national, state, county, or district offices.

HR&A’s Imagine Clearwater documents can be found on the city’s website at https://www.myclearwater.com/business/imagine-clearwater.