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Clearwater plans to auction off everything inside the closed Harborview Center

CLEARWATER

If anyone is looking for 1,280 dinner plates, now's your chance. The Harborview Center has closed, and everything must go! The city of Clearwater is planning to auction off all the stuff inside the defunct building next month. The list of booty includes everything you'd expect to find in a convention center — thousands of tables and chairs, plus enough kitchen equipment to feed an army. There's also more exotic fare like a spotlight, collapsible stages, microphone stands and even a dance floor.

Likely customers will include hotels and convention centers in the Southeast as well as local caterers, buffet places, churches and charities, said Clearwater purchasing manager George McKibben.

But some in the general public will also likely have an interest in scouting the auction for bargains.

The event is tentatively scheduled for April 24 at the Harborview. Further details will be advertised shortly beforehand. The city plans a five-day period for customers to come check out the merchandise.

The City Council voted last week to hire an experienced company, Tampa Machinery Auction, to handle the event.

The inventory of things like 870 salad forks, 125 water pitchers, 80 breadbaskets and 809 champagne glasses will be split into smaller groups for purchase, McKibben said.

"They'll be broken up into smaller lots so you don't have to buy 2,400 of them," he said, gesturing into a room stacked high with plastic and folding chairs.

The city-owned Harborview Center hosted trade shows and events for about 15 years, but over time it turned into Clearwater's white elephant.

The city bought the former Maas Brothers department store in 1994 and turned it into a makeshift convention center, but it never worked that well because of its odd configuration. Clearwater can no longer afford to subsidize its operations, which cost about $350,000 a year.

Officials hope to demolish the building over the summer, City Manager Bill Horne said. But first they must negotiate a settlement with the sole remaining tenant, Pickles Deli, which has a lease that runs for another decade. There are no solid plans for the site after the building is gone.

One day this past week, McKibben showed a couple of visitors through a darkened maze of meeting rooms, conference halls and ballrooms inside the cavernous, 65,000-square-foot building.

He pointed out walk-in freezers, overhead projectors, soup bowls, light fixtures, storage racks, sofas, podiums and coffee urns.

All for sale.

"We have a lot of stuff," he said.

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

Clearwater plans to auction off everything inside the closed Harborview Center 03/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 20, 2010 2:58pm]
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