Council Accepts ‘Imagine Clearwater’ Plan
The master plan sets out a design for a redesigned and improved waterfront area.
CLEARWATER – The Clearwater City Council voted unanimously to accept the “Imagine Clearwater” master plan to revitalize the downtown Clearwater waterfront area.
The master plan proposes a design for an expanded and improved waterfront park, recommends a set of catalyst projects to activate downtown Clearwater, and defines steps the city and community can take to implement the plan.
The vote comes after five months of work by city staff and the consultant team to develop a plan that incorporates the vision of the public on what they want their downtown Clearwater Waterfront to look like in the future. A draft master plan was presented to the public in two separate community workshops late last year. The comments and suggestions made at these two workshops helped reshape the master plan that was presented to the council.
Some of the changes made to the draft master plan based on the latest round of public input include
• Increases in the number of on-site parking spaces, plus description of additional parking associated with bluff redevelopment and throughout downtown Clearwater.
• New water-based facilities and programming along the Clearwater Harbor, including a splash pad in Coachman Garden and a rain catcher and splash pad in the civic gateway area.
• Increase in the number of restroom facilities.
• Additional accommodations and detail regarding potential logistics for large-scale events.
• Relocation of splash pad farther away from Cleveland Street and addition of two water features.
“Since August, hundreds of residents have participated in seven community workshops, shared their thoughts via email and social media, and provided 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 last night is a plan that residents will be excited about.”
Highlights of the accepted plan:
*A dynamic and expanded Coachman Park. This space is more than twice 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 several unique spaces:
— Coachman Garden: Located where Coachman Park currently sits, this area will be restored to a natural, shaded environment that includes passive recreation space, direct waterfront access, and a new playground and children’s water feature connected by paths to the Main Public Library and parking.
— The Green: Located on what is now a parking lot behind the Harborview Center, this area will become a grand civic lawn anchored by a modern new bandshell, designed to accommodate events of all sizes with minimal impact on surrounding parkland. Between events, the Green will be open to residents and visitors for picnics and passive recreation. A promenade will surround the Green and include space for temporary markets, art fairs, and other community activities.
— The Estuary: A lush respite for visitors in search of a quiet waterfront experience, the Estuary will also provide a safe and convenient natural experience for Clearwater’s young people to enjoy and study for generations.
— The Bluff Walk: Tying these sets of diverse experiences together is the park’s Bluff Walk, an active linear promenade that utilizes Clearwater’s unique topography, provides unparalleled views, and stiches together the waterfront and Downtown.
*An active Bluff connecting Coachman Park to Downtown.The master plan envisions an active, urban corridor along Osceola Avenue that frames Coachman Park and connects it to Downtown Clearwater. This goal can be achieved in particular via three important City-owned parcels on the Bluff – the Harborview Center site, City Hall site, and the Main Library, re-envisioned to include these features:
— The Civic Gateway: The master plan envisions a dramatic entry plaza on the southern portion of what is now the Harborview Center. The Civic Gateway will invite pedestrians into the waterfront from Downtown with a shaded pavilion, a grand staircase and a rain-catcher fountain. North of the Gateway, a new mixed-use building could feature a restaurant with sunset views and outdoor seating, integrated with low-rise downtown rental housing.
— Main Public Library: Activation of the Main Library with an expanded series of community uses will strengthen the space’s role as a center for the community and enhance the relationship between it and its surroundings.
— New downtown housing: The redevelopment of the Harborview and City Hall sites creates opportunities to bring new residents downtown, activating the edge of the park and strengthening the health of downtown businesses along Cleveland Street. These sites can also accommodate a variety of cultural, retail, and community uses.
With the council’s acceptance, the “Imagine Clearwater” master plan will be scheduled for a workshop, where members can discuss possible changes to the plan and what the next steps will be.
The plan proposes implementation in a phased approach.
Phase one is concentrated in the areas that the city owns north of Cleveland Street and 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 Gateway. During this phase, the City will encourage the redevelopment of underutilized, privately-owned sites along Osceola and north of Cleveland Street, including parcels owned by the developer of the Skyview.
Phase two of the plan features the expansion of the park south of Cleveland Street and the completion of the southern portion of the Bluff Walk. This phase also includes the relocation of City Hall and preparation of the site for redevelopment. In conjunction with phase two, the city will also encourage the activation of key private sites along Osceola Avenue and south of Cleveland Street. Such sites include parcels owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Pinellas County Utilities, and the Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church, as well as the activation of ground-floor retail spaces at Cleveland and Osceola.
Many features of the new plan will require a public referendum to be implemented. Those items will also be discussed at the upcoming workshop.
“Now that the public has helped us develop a master plan for the downtown Clearwater area, it is our job to determine the best way to implement this plan,” Delk said.
For information or to view the Imagine Clearwater master plan, go to myclearwater.com or call Gina Clayton at (727) 562-4587.
Photos courtesy of the city of Clearwater.
Clearwater City Council | Imagine Clearwater | Waterfront Area | Redevelopment | TB Reporter
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