Clearwater, FL (Nov. 29, 2016) – The Clearwater City Council today gave a thumbs-up to a draft master plan to revitalize the downtown Clearwater waterfront area. Called “Imagine Clearwater,” the draft master plan includes a design for a future waterfront park, recommends a set of catalyst projects that will activate the downtown, proposes a strategy for how different elements fit into the overall area, and defines steps the City and community can take to implement the plan.
Once public input is collected during two additional community workshops tonight and tomorrow, and a comment period has been closed, the consultants will revise the plan one more time before it is presented to the City Council for final approval.
“Since August, hundreds of residents have participated in community workshops, shared their thoughts via email or social media, or made comments on the Imagine Clearwater website,” said Michael Delk, Planning and Development Director for the City of Clearwater. “I am confident that the plan presented to the City Council today is a plan that residents will be excited about.”
Some highlights of the proposed plan:
• A dynamic public waterfront open space: This space is nearly three times the size of the existing Coachman Park, and offers a variety of active and passive spaces for year-round community programming. The park consists of three unique spaces:
o The Garden: Located where Coachman Park currently sits, this area will be restored to a shaded environment that integrates several engaging play areas that connect to the Main Public Library. A new band shell placed at a more optimal angle will allow for all types of programing and will fix the problem of concertgoers having the sun in their eyes.
o The Green: Located on what is now a parking lot behind the Harborview Center, this area will become a durable civic lawn where families could have picnics, people could practice Tai Chi or musicians could play impromptu concerts.
o The Cove: Located along the waterfront, west of Cleveland Street, this area will give Clearwater residents a place to celebrate its natural heritage with such features as a garden highlighting coastal wetlands and marshes.
• The Bluff Walk: What is commonly referred to as the slope will become the Bluff Walk. This elevated promenade will incorporate native plantings and provide engaging views and experiences. Because this area is naturally elevated, everyone can share in the beautiful views this part of Clearwater offers, especially during sunset.
• The Bluff: This area will be activated to better frame the waterfront and connect it to downtown. The city owns three important parcels on the Bluff, which can serve as initial catalyst sites alongside the new park. These include:
o Harborview site: Now called the Gateway, the area will have a splash pad and elevated café/event terrace with ground floor restaurants and retail. Temporary concessions and low-rise rental housing or a hotel could also be located here.
o Main Public Library: This property could be enhanced by opening a public waterfront café or a rooftop event space.
o City Hall: When the current City Hall is relocated, the site could support a high-rise, mixed-use development that could incorporate a cultural use.
The “Imagine Clearwater” master plan would be implemented in a phased approach. Phase one will be concentrated in the areas that the City owns north of Cleveland Street. This includes the demolition of the Harborview Center and removal of its adjacent surface parking, the design and construction of park elements north of Cleveland Street, and construction of the Civic Gateway, among other things.
Phase Two of the plan will feature the expansion of the park south of Cleveland Street, including the north-south Bluff Walk. This phase will also include relocating City Hall and soliciting development proposals.
It is important to note that a number of the items in the new plan would require a public referendum in order to be implemented. Once the final master plan is passed by the City Council, a schedule for when those items will go to referendum will be determined.
“In order to put forth a final master plan that the public will support,” Delk said, “it is important that the public continues to help us develop this plan by making their voices heard.”
For residents who want to comment, written input will be gathered from now until early December. Visit www.imagineclearwater.com and leave a comment online, or follow the City of Clearwater on Facebook and post comments or questions to the page.
For more information on the Imagine Clearwater project or the community workshops, visit www.imagineclearwater.com or call Gina Clayton at (727) 562-4587.