Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater aims to simplify Cleveland Street District design rules

CLEARWATER — Here's another example of how times have gotten tougher and government spending has gotten tighter.

Just a couple of years ago, Clearwater invested $10 million of tax money into a major upgrade of Cleveland Street through downtown. But on Monday, City Council members questioned whether Clearwater really needs to spend $42,000 on another consultant for its downtown revitalization strategy.

The comparatively small sum triggered a lot of questions. Clearwater staffers say the consultant's work is necessary, but council members needed to be convinced.

The end result: A Bethesda, Md., consulting firm called StreetSense likely will be hired to put together a city-approved design manual for storefronts and building facades in downtown's Cleveland Street District. The council will vote on the contract Thursday night.

The intent is to make things simpler for frustrated property owners who want to upgrade their buildings and bring in new commercial tenants. Officials say too many of these downtown landlords aren't sure what exactly the city wants, and what kinds of renovations will get the city's blessing.

"My main goal is that we clarify things for people and eliminate roadblocks, because I'm getting complaints that we're creating roadblocks," said Mayor Frank Hibbard. More clarity might ease property owners' frustrations, he said. "If this bridges that gap, then I'm for it."

He also noted that the consultant would be paid from taxes generated within downtown's "community redevelopment area," and not from citywide tax revenue.

Why is the consultant needed?

Assistant City Manager Rod Irwin said a downtown redevelopment plan in 2004 set up design guidelines for storefronts. Then in 2006 the city started offering grants to encourage downtown landlords to upgrade their buildings' facades. But those two programs are sometimes inconsistent, and ask building owners to do different things.

"We find that's creating some confusion," Irwin said. "We need to make it more user-friendly."

Vice Mayor George Cretekos wondered why city staffers aren't doing this job instead of a consultant: "Why can't we do that internally?"

Irwin responded that this consultant has the expertise needed to produce a storefront design manual: "It's a very specific art."

Council member John Doran had a blunter question: "Will it work?"

Like the mayor, Doran hears from property and business owners who complain that the city's codes and permitting process stop them from doing what they think is best for their businesses.

Jon Eisen, managing partner of StreetSense, said the key is to educate property owners about what the city is really looking for.

Last year, the city paid a different consultant $145,000 to develop a Cleveland Street retail recruitment plan. It's a tough task to attract people to a downtown that's been in decline for years, so Clearwater officials say they can't do it without outside help.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Clearwater aims to simplify Cleveland Street District design rules 03/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 30, 2009 8:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit

    World

    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late

    Editorials

    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.