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Restaurant and Brew Pub Incentive Program Set to Transform Downtown Clearwater

The city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency is starting a bold financial incentive program to attract restaurants and brew pubs to Downtown Clearwater. 

The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program, which was approved today by the city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency board, will provide loan-to-grant funding of up to $250,000 to participating property owners and commercial tenants in Downtown Clearwater.

The program’s goal is to attract anchor restaurants and brew pubs to Downtown Clearwater, which will open the door for other retailers and entrepreneurs to invest downtown. The city’s revitalization strategy focuses on growing downtown’s dining, entertainment, business and art scene. The strategy leverages Downtown Clearwater’s potential as a vibrant destination for people of all backgrounds to live, work and play.

Program participants can receive a maximum of $250,000 that must be dedicated to interior building improvements.

The interior building improvements include:

  • American with Disabilities Act requirements
  • Florida Fire Protection Code requirements
  • Air conditioning and heating and mechanical upgrades
  • Plumbing and electrical improvements
  • Structural stabilization including repair and replacement of foundations, footers, load-bearing walls and roofing systems
  • Room and space reconfiguration including wall relocation
  • Energy efficiency enhancements

Participants can also use the loan-to-grant incentive program for business start-up costs, including rent subsidy, furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Business plans that offer a unique and enterprising project that serves as a business catalyst for Downtown Clearwater can apply for additional financial incentives, above the $250,000 for interior building improvements, through the Anchor Tenant Incentive Program.

“Downtown Clearwater is aggressively positioning itself as a premier destination for dining, entertainment, business, arts and culture,” said Seth Taylor, director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. “The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program will give that extra boost for businesses to locate here and succeed.”

“We are thrilled to announce this new program and ready to attract and partner with the best Tampa Bay businesses for our fast-growing downtown,” Taylor said.

The term of the loan will be five years from the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. For each year the business is open and operating, 20 percent of the loan will be forgiven. After five years that the business is open and operating, the loan will be forgiven entirely and converted into a grant.

Applications for the Anchor Tenant Incentive Program will be reviewed by a committee comprised of city staff. The committee’s recommendation will be presented to the Community Redevelopment Agency board, which is made up of the City Council, for approval.

“The Community Redevelopment Agency’s Anchor Tenant Incentive Program is exactly the type of economic incentive we need to help Downtown Clearwater realize its full potential as one of Florida’s great urban waterfront destinations,” said Jay Polglaze, executive director of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership.

“The Clearwater Downtown Partnership fully supports this program, and we look forward to welcoming program participants to our growing business community,” Polglaze said.

Support for the Anchor Tenant Incentive Program

“Restaurants and brew pubs are key to revitalizing the downtown. I applaud the CRA for launching this bold incentive program that will make Downtown Clearwater a vibrant dining and entertainment destination. ”  Frank Chivas, Owner, Baystar Restaurant Group

“We’ve always believed in the viability of a retail centric, urban renewal of Downtown Clearwater. Inducements such as the CRA’s new Anchor Tenant Incentive Program is a positive step in making this a reality.” – Scott Dobbins, Founder & Principal, Hybridge Commercial Real Estate

“The city of Clearwater’s Anchor Tenant Incentive Program will give entrepreneurs the start-up capital they need to launch their brewery. On behalf of the Florida Brewers Guild, I am excited to hear about this wonderful opportunity supporting the Tampa Bay craft beer industry. Downtown Clearwater is ripe to become a destination for breweries.”  Kent Bailey, President, Florida Brewers Guild; President, Coppertail Brewing Co.

"This program seems to be the jumpstart that we need so badly in order to create an economically independent downtown that is market driven. This is the only way to transform it to an actual destination for people and not just a place to pass through while going to other places." – Clare and Zohar Halfon, Owner 2 Ospreys LLC, 432 Cleveland St.

“The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program can provide the critical element necessary to induce prospective major tenants to locate in our downtown. A loan-to-grant program provides a powerful financial incentive to start an anchor restaurant (or similar activity) in our downtown district and then the motivation to continue to pursue it to ultimate success despite the hardships involved in getting any new enterprise off the ground. I am fully in favor of this program.” – Paris Morfopoulos, Chairman, Downtown Development Board

“The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program is a big step in the right direction to attract destination businesses to our growing downtown. Anchor businesses will bring more people downtown, which will benefit the entire business community. On behalf of the Downtown Clearwater Merchants Association, I am pleased to support this innovative incentive program.”  Lina Teixeira, President, Downtown Clearwater Merchants Association

“As we’ve seen throughout Pinellas County, a quality brewery can be a great family-friendly place that complements a walkable and livable community. I applaud the Clearwater CRA’s initiative to create this innovative incentive program.” – Whit Blanton, FAICP, Executive Director, Forward Pinellas

“This is a great incentive that I can use to encourage more good tenants to locate in Downtown Clearwater!”  David L. Kerr, Broker & Owner, High Point Realty

“I have seen Downtown Clearwater grow nicely over the past five years, and the Anchor Tenant Incentive Program will speed up the process.”  Ray Cassano, Broker & Owner, Station Square Realty

"Community Redevelopment Agencies in other cities have created the spark to fire renaissance and vibe for downtown living and amenities.  Now that Clearwater has a dedicated CRA Director proposing grant fund incentives to partner with the Imagine Clearwater plan for redevelopment, our vision is clear.  Incentive programs represent the catalyst to inspire tenants and landlords to make the investment in our historic downtown such that it will expand beyond its current borders to include a vibrant waterfront.”  Carol Hague, President & CEO, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce