CLEARWATER — Using words like “hideous,” City Council members have not been shy about expressing their dislike for the appearance of the former City Hall building.
In fact, they dislike it so much, they have discussed razing it in an effort to make it more attractive to developers and create a better view for residents.
The Pierce Street site is one of three downtown properties on an elevated bluff along the Intracoastal Waterway that the city is currently attempting to redevelop as part of its Imagine Clearwater project. Developers have until April 12 to make their proposals.
“I’d like to move forward with the demolition of City Hall to show that we’re moving forward on Imagine Clearwater, and I think it needs to be done to show developers we’re serious about getting going on this,” Vice Mayor David Allbritton said Jan. 21.
Assistant City Manager Micah Maxwell reported that it wouldn’t be cheap, though.
“The quote that we received for the demolition is $529,993,” he said. “That is to demo it in about 143 days.”
And while the demolition would reduce the annual utilities cost on the property from $26,000 to $12,000, the rest of the council said they were not quite ready to level the building that the city departed for a nearby high-rise in 2018.
Mayor Frank Hibbard and Council member Hoyt Hamilton said they see both sides of the argument. Hibbard said he would like to get rid of it to both enhance the view and give residents a window into the progress of the Coachman Park redevelopment.
He also said razing the building would also eliminate any temptation the city might have to keep it around.
“My fear of leaving it is that we will come up with an idea, perhaps a bad one, to reuse it,” he said.
City officials have added that developers might actually want to recycle the demolition waste.
Hamilton said he would like to see what the proposals are first before tearing it down.
“I don’t feel the burning need to spend any money at this time on that kind of stuff,” he said. “I think it can wait a little longer. I think the public is fully aware that we’re moving forward.”