‘Imagine Clearwater’ Sees Life on the City’s Waterfront
The Pierce Street Market will help create a magnet for walking, biking, playing and shopping.
By KYLE PIERSON, Correspondent, TB Reporter
CLEARWATER — Within ten minutes of arriving at the stakeholder coalition meeting to reimagine Clearwater’s downtown, this was heard: “We should contact Pierce Street Market; they’re young and they are stakeholders in the planning.”
The meeting was about Imagine Clearwater’s vision to revitalize Clearwater’s waterfront, with walking, biking, playing, and shopping as the central theme.
The Pierce Street Market is Clearwater’s newest farmers market. It opened at the Clearwater Harbor Marina in Oct. 2015. Farmers markets have proven to be successful people magnets for other cities. The formula is simple: Find a vacant parking lot and organize vendors selling fruits and vegetables in close proximity to those selling homemade bread, jelly, honey and sunflowers. Add urban dwellers pushing strollers and walking dogs, and voilà, you have supplied a vital fix for creating a community connection.
A case in point is St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market, which started with a few kiosks occupying Al Lang stadium parking lot in 2002. Today, according to their website, it has 170 vendors and attracts 10,000 visitors on a typical Saturday.
Clearwater’s downtown is dated, but it is hardly a blighted area. The Harborview Center, home to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, an exhibit of movie memorabilia, sits on prime real estate that the city would like to reclaim.
The Center occupies the bluff overlooking the waterfront, now considered an eyesore by many. Long-time residents will remember it as the old Maas Brothers Department Store.
Last year, the Clearwater Ferry, a water taxi service, began running from the Clearwater Beach Marina to the bottom of the bluff. The popular Clearwater Jazz Holiday, a four-day event, attracts over 35,000 people to Coachman Park, which is next to the Harborview Center. Coachman Park would get a new strolling garden.
Once cleared, the Harborview Center site would make an attractive location for low-rise apartments, bringing more residents to downtown. The old City Hall would be relocated to a different site, the library would be another community event place taking advantage of the roof top view. The design calls for a promenade serving as a gateway linking the bluff and waterfront to the downtown.
Kids playing on a splash pad and a pavilion would replace the existing Harborview parking lot. Imagine small businesses and restaurants on the perimeter, says Martin Zogran, Sasaki Associates, the charrette spokesperson.
To move forward, the proposal depends on a public/private partnership for financing and convincing residents who live miles from downtown to buy into the plan. The redevelopment application must go to a referendum because it requires a change in the city charter. Other stumbling blocks could be concern about loss of parking and noise.
Final workshops have been held on the Imagine Clearwater idea, which will go to the city council for approval in December.
Photo of an imagined dynamic Pierce Street Market by Kyle Pierson, correspondent, TB Reporter.
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