Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater council narrowly approves new beach resort

CLEARWATER — A beach district known for its mom-and-pop motels could soon bathe in the shade of a seven-story resort, as city leaders Thursday dodged criticism to approve the development of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

The City Council's 3-2 vote will allow developers to build a 134-room hotel, restaurant and boat dock on a stretch of Clearwater Harbor the length of a football field. Construction could begin as early as this year.

The hotel will be on more than an acre off Papaya Street and Eastshore Drive, a block north of the Clearwater Beach roundabout. It will tower over its neighbors, a crop of old-Florida motels. Dissenting City Council members Paul Gibson and Bill Jonson worried that the hotel could quickly overwhelm its neighbors.

"No one wants economic development more than myself," said Gibson, a beach Realtor. "But this project is too massive. It's too tall. … It's just too much, so I'm not going to support it."

Despite neighbors' protests, the resort also won unanimous support from the Community Development Board last month. Developers will still need to secure building permits before they can break ground.

Approval of the project continues Clearwater Beach's march toward modernity. The city's master plan for beach redevelopment, called Beach by Design, has played a key role. Half of the rooms in the new hotel will come from a special "density reserve," and developers will earn a "height bonus" allowing them to build higher in exchange for opening a public boardwalk.

Led by Clearwater developer Elias Anastasopoulos, Louis Developments LLC assembled the land in 2005 for more than $7.6 million, property records show. Though billed as a Courtyard by Marriott, the hotel's brand affiliation, or "flag," is not guaranteed.

Also not guaranteed: that the hotel will ever get built. City leaders, stung by the failures of Kiran Patel's planned $250 million beach resort and an unfinished downtown condo tower called the Strand, remain nervous that a similar collapse could happen again.

Neighbors said they're worried that the new hotel, with its "tropical modern architecture," could spoil the neighborhood's quaint appeal. A development agreement said three aging pink buildings on the site will be destroyed.

Council members wondered whether the hotel would clog the neighborhood's tight streets. A traffic study found the hotel could bring 1,200 more vehicular trips a day to narrow Eastshore Drive.

William Day, owner of the neighboring East Shore Resort, said the heavier traffic could endanger tourists flocking toward the shore.

"People are constantly crossing that street. … It just is not safe," Day said. "I don't know why we're making concessions to developers at the expense of the taxpayers and the safety of our neighborhood."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com. Send letters to the editor to tampabay.com/letters.

Clearwater council narrowly approves new beach resort 07/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 8:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  2. Where to see Fourth of July fireworks across Tampa Bay

    Events

    Looking for Independence Day fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area? There are plenty of options, including the massive shows in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey, as well as smaller shows across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

    Fireworks explode with color over the Nature Coast Freedom Festival in Hernando County. There will be a variety of fireworks displays across the Tampa Bay area for the Fourth of July in 2017. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)]
  3. PolitiFact takes on big health care question: Does GOP bill cut Medicaid?

    National

    Politics and math don't always get along, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway raised a common complaint about how people talk about the future of Medicaid spending under the Senate Republican health care bill.

    Alice Jacobs, 90, at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit county-owned nursing home in Orange, Va., on June 23. Medicaid, targeted by Republicans' health care bill, pays for most of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, some of whom do not know they are on it. (Khue Bui/The New York Times)
  4. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  5. Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled' compares to the 1971 version

    Movies

    It was a man's world in 1971 when Clint Eastwood starred in The Beguiled, a Southern gothic thriller that's as misogynistic in hindsight as old movies can be.

    Nicole Kidman, left, and Colin Farrell in a scene from “The Beguiled.”