Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Development desperately needed on Clearwater's east gateway

Clearwater officials are encouraged by news there may be a buyer for an abandoned 15-story concrete eyesore looming over downtown's east end. Now they need to encourage the deal to go through, and being open to forgiving tens of thousands of dollars in fines that have accumulated on the property could be a good place to start.

A Chicago investment firm with deep pockets is considering buying the structure and finishing it as condos or rental apartments. Formerly known as the 1100 Building, the structure housed federal government and corporate offices and was a hub of activity on east Cleveland Street until it was purchased in 2004 by an American subsidiary of the Spanish company Espacio and local developer Guy Bonneville.

They stripped off the outside skin of the building, leaving 15 floors of bare concrete and steel, and began work on a ground-level parking garage. They prematurely named the building the Strand and advertised it as a luxury condominium complex. But the partners ended up in a legal dispute and the only construction completed was the sales center across the street, now also abandoned. All work on the project stopped five years ago.

Still owned by Espacio, the ugly structure stands like a beacon advertising the continued struggles of Clearwater's so-called East Gateway.

It's not the first time that efforts to attract development to the east end to reverse the decline of commercial properties, neighborhoods and property values have hit a stumbling block. Clearwater removed a former Montgomery Ward and City Hall annex from the southwest corner of Missouri Avenue and Cleveland Street in 1996 in hopes of attracting investors.

IMRglobal, an information technology company, built its new international headquarters on the 15-acre site, lavishly landscaping the campus with magnolias, Canary Island date palms and Hong Kong orchid trees and promising that 1,000 employees eventually would work there. But within two years the company had been sold to a Canadian firm, CGI, which pulled out of the location a year later.

In 2004, FrankCrum, a thriving family-owned company that provides human resources services for corporate clients, bought the sprawling campus and has maintained it in top-notch condition. But even that attractive example of corporate responsibility hasn't been enough to bring about a renaissance in the East Gateway. It is clear that many such examples will be needed to spark significant change.

It is important for the city to eliminate barriers to renewal of the east end. The Strand, which is less than a block west of FrankCrum, is a barrier. While the potential buyer of the Strand is in a due diligence period prior to committing to purchasing the property, Clearwater officials should pursue any gesture that would help convince the investment firm it would find government cooperation and a hearty welcome here.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
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Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18