The Clearwater City Council on Feb. 2 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.
This move by the City Council 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 City Council on Feb. 2. Some of the changes made to the draft master plan based on this latest round of public input include:
“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 Department 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.”
Highlights of the accepted plan include:
A dynamic and expanded Coachman Park: This proposed space is over 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.
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 deliver the following:
With the City Council’s acceptance, a special City Council meeting to discuss implementing the master plan will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 21. The City Council 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.
It is important to note that many features of the new plan will require a public referendum in order to be implemented. These 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.
The consultant team that developed this plan is made up of HR&A Advisors, Sasaki, Kimley-Horn, and B2 Communications.
To view the Imagine Clearwater Master Plan, click here.
For more information on the Imagine Clearwater master plan, visit www.imagineclearwater.com or call Gina Clayton, the city’s Planning and Development Department assistant director, at (727) 562-4587.