01/29/15 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Downtown Clearwater doesn't have a Jeff Vinik like Tampa has, or a Bill Edwards like St. Petersburg has. There's no multimillionaire white knight who's looking to invest tens of millions downtown.
Bearing that in mind, city leaders still hope to get the private sector involved as they embark on a laundry list of projects intended to revive Clearwater's historic downtown core....
CLEARWATER — He had a tough childhood. His father, a commercial fisherman, was lost at sea when he was just 11. He was placed in foster care.
At age 16, he moved to Pinellas County, where he eventually started a wholesale fish business. Then he opened a restaurant. Then another. Then another. Then another.
Along the way, he got seriously involved in his community. So, on Wednesday night, restaurateur Frank Chivas was named "Mr. Clearwater" at the 93rd annual meeting of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce....
CLEARWATER -- The huge vehicle bay of Clearwater's new main fire station is big enough to hold four fire engines side-by-side. Monday afternoon, it was filled by a crowd of people for a grand opening ceremony.
The three-story, 33,000-square-foot fire station at 1140 Court St. will double as the Clearwater Fire Department's headquarters. Its top floor is administrative offices, its second floor is living quarters, and its bottom floor is for operations....
The gateway to south Clearwater Beach is going through some changes.
The upcoming construction of a huge, high-end Wyndham Grand resort just south of Pier 60 and the Clearwater Beach Marina will have a ripple effect on the entire beach, of course. It's another sign of the trend of modern, upscale resorts replacing the beach's older mom-and-pop motels.
But Dr. Kiran Patel's 700,000-square-foot resort will have an especially profound impact on its immediate surroundings. The well-known philanthropist and health care entrepreneur's resort will be built over the next two years on the nearly 3-acre site of a former parking lot at the split between S Gulfview Boulevard and Coronado Drive....
01/15/15 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — I have a dream, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
A group of determined neighbors in Clearwater's impoverished North Greenwood area had a dream too — to reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which closed in 2010.
After years of effort, they're making it come true. On Saturday, just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they're holding a grand reopening ceremony and open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m....
CLEARWATER — It has long been called the most expensive parking lot in Florida.
More than a decade ago, high-profile Tampa philanthropist Kiran Patel paid $40 million for 3 acres of prime beachfront property in the heart of Clearwater Beach's tourist district. It was one of the priciest land purchases in Pinellas County history.
Patel dynamited three aging hotels and hatched plans to replace them with a ritzy "mega-resort." That fell apart when the economy crashed....
CLEARWATER -- Bill Horne, Clearwater’s longtime city manager, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Horne, 65, said Wednesday that it’s an early diagnosis involving a small amount of cancer, and he’s quite optimistic that it can be successfully treated. He’ll soon begin eight weeks of radiation therapy and intends to keep the same schedule, without missing any work time....
01/07/15 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Bill Horne, Clearwater's longtime city manager, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Horne, 65, said Wednesday that it's an early diagnosis involving a small amount of cancer, and he's quite optimistic that it can be successfully treated. He'll soon begin eight weeks of radiation therapy and intends to keep the same schedule, without missing any work time.
The disease was detected by a routine prostate cancer screening during Horne's annual physical. As he's been informing friends and colleagues of his condition, Horne says he's been surprised to hear how many of the men aren't getting the same tests done....
TARPON SPRINGS — The night before Epiphany, 18-year-old Kosta Pseftelis and his friends paid a visit to Spring Bayou to scout out the scene of the annual cross dive. In the moonlit darkness, they peered at the dinghies that were anchored in a semicircle, waiting for the divers to perch on the next day.
This would be Pseftelis' third and final chance to dive for the cross. Next year he'd be too old. He was looking for an edge, and something told him the second boat on the left might give him a prime position....
01/03/15 Special Topics
Does the Church of Scientology just want downtown Clearwater all to itself?
That's the question people are asking now that Scientology, the biggest property owner downtown, is working behind the scenes to fight the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's plans to move there.
The campaign has become increasingly aggressive. The church has brought in an accountant, an economist and an investigative reporter to dig into the nonprofit aquarium's financial projections and its animal-care history, according to aquarium supporters....
12/25/14 Real Estate
It's a winding maze of wooden walkways, shady grottoes, cascading waterfalls and green-carpeted fairways. Heck, there's even a pirate ship.
For a quarter-century, families visiting Clearwater Beach and seeking a break from the sand and sun have been stopping by to play 18 holes at a miniature golf course called Captain Bligh's Landing.
Now Captain Bligh and his pet parrot will have to walk the plank. The course's owners have plans to replace it with a nine-story, 159-room hotel, possibly a Marriott....
12/25/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Situated among the well-kept waterfront homes of Island Estates, there's an unfinished house that looks like it got hit by a hurricane. All that's left are crumbling tile floors, rotting carpet, strands of rebar, chunks of concrete-block wall, "No Trespassing" signs, overgrown weeds and a swimming pool filled with scum.
The property, at the south end of one of the fingers of land that make up Island Estates, has a lovely view of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Memorial Causeway bridge. Yet this apocalyptic landscape has sat untouched for three years now....
TARPON SPRINGS — Before his death early Sunday, Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek had just been elected by his fellow officers to be their union representative. His position with the Police Benevolent Association made him the voice of his co-workers in their contract negotiations.
Now the PBA has established a memorial fund and is selling T-shirts in Kondek's honor. Donations may be made for Kondek's family at any Wells Fargo Bank or mailed to Sun Coast PBA, 14141 46th St. N., Suite 1205, Clearwater, FL 33762. Checks should be made out to Sun Coast Law Enforcement Charities/Officer Charles Kondek Memorial Fund....
TARPON SPRINGS — It was a routine call, a car stereo blaring at 2 a.m. Sunday.
Officer Charles Kondek, a veteran of the overnight shift, was the first to respond to the small apartment building in Tarpon Springs.
Moments later, he lay dying in the parking lot, shot in the chest and run over as the suspect sped away.
The shooter, Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., was caught after a short car chase, investigators said. The 23-year-old with an extensive criminal record including 30 felony charges was wanted for violating probation and told investigators he didn't want to go back to prison. He faces a first-degree murder charge....
ST. PETERSBURG — A 33-year-old homeless man died Saturday, a couple of days after he was punched in downtown's Williams Park and fell down, slamming his head onto pavement, police said.
Eric Clyde Balmonte, who was described as a transient, suffered a skull fracture and brain bleeding in the incident, which occurred about 7 a.m. Thursday, police said. He never regained consciousness and was taken off life-support shortly before noon Saturday....