Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater residents say knock the Harborview Center down

CLEARWATER — Some on the City Council are rethinking the Harborview Center's demolition.

Some in the city definitely aren't.

They want city leaders to stick to their word and tear down the defunct convention center with its gray sea of parking spaces. In its place they'd like to see an expanded Coachman Park, a large waterfront park that could become the centerpiece of downtown.

It's a movement that seems to have grown with news of talks between Mayor Frank Hibbard and the Armed Forces Military Museum.

If the Largo museum moved into the Harborview, joining a Clearwater Marine Aquarium movie tour there, it could set back plans for the building's demolition — potentially for good.

That's a scary thought for Howard Warshauer, vice chairman of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership. In February, he helped found the Coachman Park Enhancement Committee to push for the parkland as an economic generator and salve for downtown.

"We have these beautiful assets: the view of the waterfront and this beautiful bluff, two things you don't have in very many cities," Warshauer said. "But right now it's blocked 100 percent by this big ugly box."

Warshauer, who was a city commissioner for seven years in West Palm Beach, thinks clearing away the Harborview would open up waterfront and parkland views on Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, enticing residents and return visitors instead of the tourists more attracted by a tour or museum.

City Manager Bill Horne agreed that the Harborview still needs to come down, saying "there's no value" in keeping it. But he would like to keep the site open for developers to build something that could actively try to draw people downtown and add to the city's tax base.

Expanding the park, he said, would make passersby too accustomed to the Osceola Avenue waterfront view, making it harder to win support for a new development.

"We never really entertained (the idea of) an open bluff," Horne said. "The bluff, with public structures on it, doesn't generate revenue."

Though the council voted two years ago to demolish the Harborview, there remains no clear consensus on what to do next. Mayor Frank Hibbard has said expanding Coachman Park could attract more homeless people. Council member Bill Jonson has opposed the Harborview as an obstructive white elephant, likening it to the Berlin Wall.

But of the half-dozen residents who e-mailed City Hall in the last week, there was unanimous opposition to the Harborview's chance at new life. They called keeping the building up a huge mistake and a waste of tax money.

One of those residents, Chet Winston, an Army veteran who moved to Clearwater Beach 11 years ago, said in an interview that new parkland could create an environment similar to St. Petersburg's Beach Drive. There, North Straub Park and the open bayfront have helped lead a boom in chic eateries and a revival of the downtown waterfront.

"The potential (here) is enormous if you get someone in there with a little bit of vision," Winston said.

That vision, he said, starts with taking down the Harborview.

"How do you eat an elephant?" he said. "One bite at a time."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or

Clearwater residents say knock the Harborview Center down 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 1:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.