Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With demolition of Economy Inn, Clearwater hopes to kick off new era

CLEARWATER — In one way, the downward swipe of the backhoe Thursday morning ended an era.

In another, it created a new beginning.

City officials and community activists joined in a collective cheer at exactly 10:18 a.m. when demolition of the notorious Economy Inn and adjacent blighted buildings got under way on Cleveland Street.

"We will knock it down, then we'll build something great," said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard.

The city is demolishing the motel, which has long been a thorn in the sides of residents and police. Residents said they are thrilled to see the one-story motel, known as an open-air drug market and a haven for prostitutes and pimps, gone for good.

The Police Department responded to more than 400 calls for service at the Economy Inn last year, according to city officials. The motel, with its peeling roof shingles, also was the subject of at least two dozen city code cases since 2004 over issues such as mold, broken windows and inoperable vehicles.

Maryce Garber, president of the East Gateway Business and Neighbors Association, said she has witnessed the decline of the area east of downtown. Criminal activity and lewdness got so bad, Garber said, that she quit entertaining in her nearby home out of embarrassment about what her guests might see.

Garber said she is looking forward to the rebirth of the East Gateway area, which is bounded by Drew Street to the north, Highland Avenue to the east, Missouri Avenue on the west and Court Street to the south.

Garber said the demolition, which is still in progress, "did my heart good."

She said she would like to see the spot become home to a destination attraction, perhaps a museum, that will draw people into the area and restore it as a gateway to downtown and the beach like it once was.

The city purchased the motel and surrounding buildings — including a Mexican restaurant, the old Royal Palm Motel, a single-family home and two duplexes — in December for about $1.7 million. Altogether, the plots make up a 2.2-acre parcel that city leaders hope to market to a developer.

In March, the city began seeking proposals for a firm to create a "neighborhood vision plan" for the area. That process is scheduled to begin this summer.

Gabrielle Carelli Glatt, daughter of the couple who owned the Royal Palm Motel from 1950 to 1997, said the moment was "bittersweet."

Several people at Thursday's ceremony said the Royal Palm was once an immaculate facility and a vibrant spot. It had a piano bar that drew working professionals and public officials from the downtown courthouse.

Those days may be over, but it's the prospect of what's to come that had Glatt and her family members looking toward the future on Thursday.

"Clearwater really needs it," Glatt said. "For progress, you need to move on."

With demolition of Economy Inn, Clearwater hopes to kick off new era 04/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 10:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017

    News

    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion." 

  2. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again

    Blogs

    Coming off Sunday's 6 1/2-hour, 15-inning marathon win over the Twins, the Rays will have the pitcher who finished that game, Erasmo Ramirez, start tonight's game in Texas, first pitch 8:05 Tampa Bay time.

    Ramirez threw only 12 pitches on Sunday so the Rays decided to let him make his planned start tonight, …

  3. Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honors Memorial Day (w/video)

    Blogs

       Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honored those that served during their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with …

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor.
  4. Authorities release name of Tampa woman killed in Temple Terrace apartment fire

    Fire

    TEMPLE TERRACE — Authorities have released the name of a woman who died in a fire that destroyed a dozen units in an apartment complex here Sunday.

    Firefighters battle an early-morning fire Sunday that claimed the life of 28-year-old Tenecia Renee Brannon and left about 30 others homeless. [Temple Terrace Fire Department]
  5. New Port Richey restaurant worker shoots attacker

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A restaurant kitchen worker shot and injured a man who entered the business and began beating him Saturday, according to New Port Richey Police.

    Vince Angelety, 29, of New Port Richey faces a charge of burglary with simple battery. He remained in the Land O'Lakes Detention Center on Monday, held without bail. [Photo courtesy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office]