City to Bet $9 Million that Parking Garage Will Succeed
By Anne McKay Garris
Quiz! What, on Clearwater Beach, is going to be painted Pink Bauble and Bay Coral with accents of Skyrocket Red and Vanilla Cream - has been long awaited on Clearwater Beach and may, or may not, cost the city a bundle - and has public art, 35 feet high and 20 feet wide, featuring a sea life theme?
Plans for the "other" parking garage, the one next door to the soon to open Hyatt Hotel parking garage, will be before the Clearwater Community Development Board at a special meeting on January 5, at 1:00 p.m. at City Hall. The garage offers 301 public parking spaces and 34,183 square feet of retail space.
A unique concept of parking garage above retail stores and a restaurant, the proposal has been long in the making. Part of the delay was the difficulty of putting together a complicated financing plan which includes the city's placing in escrow the sum of $9,300,000 to assure the lender that his money will be forthcoming in case of a default by the developer. In short, the agreement, which has been agreed upon but not yet finally approved by the City Council, is the city will buy the parking garage portion of the building for $9,300,000 if, within five years, the property is foreclosed or otherwise forfeited to the lender.
The money is already available in the city's Parking Fund, garnered from parking lot profits over the years. Formerly this fund paid for such benefits as Life Guards, beach cleaning and the Jolly Trolley. Although it still partially funds the Jolly Trolley, it no longer funds anything else, except for a donation to help "buy down" the debt on the Downtown Clearwater marina.
"If the city had built a parking garage from scratch," reasons the City Council, "it would have cost the $9 million now designated to be set aside for the developer. This amount would include the cost of purchasing the land. Now there is a chance that the garage will be successful and the city will not have to pay out the $9 million.
Plans for the building are for three condominium elements, consisting of two retail spaces and the parking garage. If the city has to make the purchase it will be only that element devoted to the parking garage.
The proposed building will replace the current Britt's Restaurant and Surf Style Shop. It will have a ground level entrance with an eight foot corridor that leads from Coronado to South Gulfview. This corridor will be lined with retail shops and have an entrance to the new Britt's Restaurant in the building. Presumably, it can also be used as access to Clearwater Beach by pedestrians as well as the customers who use the parking garage occupying the four top stories of the building.
Proposed to be 59.5 feet high, the building will also fill the lot except for small setbacks, plus a space of 20 feet on the north side which provides for additional room between it and the residential usage of the Hyatt hotel. There will be a reduction in the amount of landscaping required, some of which will be on the city right-of-way next to South Gulfview.
If the Community Development Board approves the Flexible Development for the building on January 5, the developer must still get a vacation of 35 feet of South Gulfview on the West (bringing it even with the next door Hyatt building) from the City Council, as well as permission from FEMA to build a 2 foot high "wave retention" wall on the west of the building which would change the V zone flood rating of the site to an A zone.
Before final approval, the developer will also have to arrange for approval to place foundation plantings within the South Gulfview right-of-way and provide an easement for the deceleration lane and the public sidewalk on the east side of the developer's land.
The development agreement for the garage and the vacation of the South Gulfview Boulevard right-of-way will be before the City Council on January 14.
Return to Current Edition