CLEARWATER — City officials are looking at a two-pronged plan aimed at adding beach parking and saving money.
And this time, the plan has nothing to do with a much-discussed parking garage.
The City Council is expected in early April to sign a contract with Salt Block 57 LLC — an affiliate of hotel developer Ocean Properties, which has a headquarters in Delray Beach — to lease 94 spaces on the land where the old Adam's Mark Hotel once stood.
Additionally, the council tonight is expected to sign off on a proposal to install parking meters at the three south beach parking lots: Pier 60, S Gulfview Boulevard, and the temporary lot where the Kiran Grand Resort is set for eventual construction.
The 2.5-acre Adams Mark parcel, which Salt Block 57 LLC recently purchased from British developer Taylor Woodrow, is next to the S Gulfview Boulevard lot.
The deal would cost the city $120 per space per month and be in place by mid April.
It, too, would use the parking meters, which should be installed by mid-June.
The only bad news?
"I wish we could have gotten (the spaces) before spring break ended," Vice Mayor John Doran said. "But we still need them."
The parking meter plan began in November, when the city installed two parking meters at a small temporary lot on East Shore Drive slightly north of the roundabout where the small Sandpiper Motel once stood.
Clearwater leaders say they need another 17 "pay and display" meters for the south lots. The solar-powered meters, which accept credit cards, coins and currency, cost $172,500. But the city is expected to save $450,000 annually once it cancels its contract with the vendor managing the lots.
"The costs are horrendous," said Tracey Bruch, the city's parking manager. "We've lost so many parking stalls we could no longer justify the cost."
The city currently pays Standard Parking Corp., which has an office in Tampa, $450,000 a year to manage its lots. The city will end the contract by summer.
Bruch said the new meters will help the city bring in "slightly more" than the $2.2-million currently collected in beach parking. Right now, beachgoers either pay attendants or fill regular meters with coins.
The Kiran lot costs $8 a day. The city-owned lots cost $1.50 per hour Monday through Friday and $2 per hour on the weekends. However, during March and April, the city charges $2 per hour daily. The rates will remain the same with the new meters, but visitors have the option of paying $10 for all-day parking.
The city's massive BeachWalk promenade project, a spiraling walkway and seating area designed to lure visitors, has gobbled about 500 of the 750 parking spaces along the south beach. The project, which stretches about a half-mile from Pier 60 to the former Adam's Mark location, should be mostly complete by early this summer.
Meanwhile, Mayor Frank Hibbard said the city will continue looking for spots to lease interim parking.
"Right now, these are efficient moves for the city," he said. "Plus we'll save money."