Clearwater Votes to Sell 2 Downtown Lots and Launches $400M Project

CLEARWATER — Voters on Tuesday approved the city‘s most ambitious attempt in decades to revitalize the city’s downtown, approving the sale of two waterfront lots to developers planning a $400 million project that includes high-rise apartments, a hotel and retail outlets .

The referendum on the sale of city-owned land to New York City-based Gotham Property Acquisitions and The DeNunzio Group of Pinellas County passed by a two-thirds vote, according to unofficial results.

The city council, neighborhood leaders, business owners and others gathered for the referendum faced no organized opposition in their campaign to revitalize downtown. The effort comes amid a growing Church of Scientology presence as companies associated with the Church have purchased at least 160 properties downtown and kept most empty.

[See all the latest election results here.]

The Bluff projects were seen as a necessary catalyst to bring full-time residents and visitors to Imagine Clearwater, the $84 million transformation of the 50-acre waterfront and Coachman Park, which will feature a 4,000-seat covered amphitheater, garden, a square and a green area are expected to be completed in June 2023.

“That’s quite a resounding result,” Mayor Frank Hibbard said over the phone from a watch party at the Island Way Grill. “I would describe it as an order to push such a project forward. People want to see a change downtown and I think this is the first step in that direction, on the heels of Imagine Clearwater of course.”

The deal includes the sale of the 3-acre lot of the now demolished Harborview Center at the northwest corner of Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street and the 6-acre vacant City Hall half a block south of Gotham and DeNunzio for $24.7 million U.S. dollar.

Two 27-storey residential towers with up to 600 units and retail on the ground floor are planned on the town hall site. The Harborview plan includes a 13-story, 158-room hotel, a conference center, a rooftop bar, and a two-story building with commercial space and a beer garden.

The developers must provide the city with a final site plan, secure funding, and complete the sale per the development agreement by December 31, 2024.

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