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Clearwater Beach parking garage good for city, says study

CLEARWATER — A parking garage on Clearwater Beach will help manage the sun-worshipping crowds while turning a profit, a study concluded Friday.

Paradise Group LLC, a Safety Harbor developer, wants to build a 642-space garage off Mandalay Avenue, a busy beach thoroughfare. If approved, the garage could open in 2015.

Year-round crowds have put increasing pressure on the 2,637 available parking spaces from Acacia Street south to the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. Previous plans for a garage behind Pelican Walk Plaza at Mandalay Avenue and Baymont Street have fallen through in the past decade.

The City Council is expected to vote on the contract Wednesday.

A group of beach residents and business owners have cried foul, saying the proposed garage would be an eyesore, create traffic congestion and squander taxpayer dollars.

"You can only put so much sugar in a five-pound bag," said Bill Day, who owns the East Shore Resort & Marina, near the proposed garage.

Mayor George Cretekos said he doesn't agree, saying traffic jams will be alleviated as motorists won't clog up Mandalay and other beach roads looking for a place to park.

Arguments about aesthetics and possible crime problems haven't swayed him, Cretekos said.

The study by Tim Haahs & Associates, a Miami-based firm, showed the garage making money from the start — about $100,000 a year from 2017 to 2026.

"That's rare for a parking facility," said Rod Irwin, assistant city manager for economic development.

The study also advocated for strict controls for 100 rooftop spaces expected to be leased to the nearby Sandpearl resort. Shorter time limits, among other measures, should also be created for shoppers patronizing the 11,482-square-feet of ground-floor retail space, which may lure a grocery store, according to another recommendation.

Charlie Frago can be reached at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4159. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Clearwater Beach parking garage good for city, says study 05/30/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 30, 2014 11:20pm]
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