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Mike Brassfield, Times Staff Writer

Mike Brassfield

Mike Brassfield has been with the Tampa Bay Times as a reporter and editor since 1998. He currently covers Clearwater and a variety of other subjects. Previously, he covered crime in St. Petersburg as well as Tampa Bay transportation issues. He also has worked as a Times editor in the Tampa and Clearwater newsrooms.

Phone: (727) 445-4151(727) 445-4151

Email: brassfield@tampabay.com

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  1. What should Clearwater do now that its aquarium isn't moving?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — What's next for Clearwater?

    For the past couple of years, any talk of revitalizing this city's historic core always came back to one question: Was the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, an immensely popular tourist attraction, really going to move downtown?

    Now that CMA has decided not to relocate after all, Clearwater leaders are switching gears and thinking about what the city should do instead....

  2. Clearwater Marine Aquarium scuttles plan to move to downtown Clearwater

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — In a significant setback for Tampa Bay's third-largest city, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has decided not to move downtown after all.

    The small aquarium near Clearwater Beach had proposed relocating to a significantly larger, modern $68 million facility that it intended to build on the bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor. City officials had hoped the move would help revive Clearwater's sleepy downtown....

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Island Estates is home to dolphins and other rescued marine life. Rather than move, it has decided expand and upgrade its cramped quarters.
  3. Why not turn downtown Clearwater into a pedestrian mall?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Here's another idea that's being kicked around for moribund downtown Clearwater: Why not turn the center of it into a pedestrian mall?

    Downtown leaders have been debating the possibility of blocking off part of Cleveland Street to vehicular traffic. City staffers have been asked to weigh the potential pros and cons of a pedestrian zone. But officials are pouring cold water on the idea, despite the enthusiasm some have for it....

    There is talk by some of turning the 400 block of Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater into a pedestrian mall.
  4. Pinellas beach towns struggle with illegal home rentals

    Local Government

    All the signs are there. Raucous parties. Strangers who stay up late. Cars parked everywhere. An ever-changing rotation of RVs with out-of-state license plates. Beer cans. Wedding tents. Different faces every week.

    Residents of Pinellas County's beach neighborhoods say they're noticing more and more homes being illegally rented to tourists for a week at a time, or even on a nightly basis....

    “We just want our neighborhood to stay a neighborhood,” Steve Curtis of Clearwater Beach said of the rentals, such as this home that has been cited. Restrictions vary by city.
  5. Businesses on transformed U.S. 19 in Clearwater push for better signs

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — For years, officials have acknowledged the need for new way-finding signs to guide drivers to destinations along the transformed U.S. 19 corridor through Clearwater. Traffic patterns there have dramatically changed with the road's transition to an elevated, limited-access highway.

    With the elimination of some traffic lights and turn lanes, it's not as simple as it used to be to get to some locations alongside U.S. 19. The stakes are high for businesses that have lost direct access to the busy road. They want to make sure that motorists can find them....

    The center’s owners have asked for new signage for years.
  6. Vision for Clearwater veterans memorial to become a reality

    Veterans

    CLEARWATER

    The city of Largo has a dignified-looking veterans memorial in one of its parks. So does Dunedin. The same goes for Oldsmar. But up until now, a veterans memorial in Clearwater's Crest Lake Park has existed only as a idea in an artist's rendering.

    That's about to change. A Tampa Bay veterans group has reached a crucial milestone in its quest to build a memorial plaza in the park's southeast corner, to be visible from passing traffic on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Construction will begin in about a month and should be complete by Veterans Day in November....

    A  rendering shows a memorial the Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance intends to build in Clearwater. 
  7. Police report: Scientology leader spied on his dad 'no matter where he went'

    Special Topics

    When two police officers in West Allis, Wis., stopped the man who was walking around the neighborhood — surveying one resident's yard, peering through another home's front door, looking to neighbors like a drug dealer — he told them only part of the truth.

    Dwayne S. Powell said he was looking around for a house to buy.

    He had a fake Florida driver's license, a large knife in his front pocket and a black SUV loaded with so many weapons and other belongings that police towed it to their storage garage. They counted two rifles, four handguns, a homemade silencer, a brown leather whip and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, some of them already loaded into magazines....

    David Miscavige [Times files (1998)]
  8. When is the music too loud in Clearwater Beach?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Spring break crowds are still flocking to Clearwater Beach. Bands at beach bars are playing classic rock and reggae. And virtually no one there is happy with Clearwater's noise ordinance.

    Beach businesses that feature outdoor entertainment feel like they're being picked on. Beach residents who don't like the loud music feel like they're helpless to stop it. It's a long-standing problem on a barrier island where visitors party in a bustling tourist district that's alongside residential high-rises and neighborhoods....

  9. Meet Maurice Wilder, the biggest real estate mogul you've never heard of

    Real Estate

    He's the most powerful Tampa Bay real estate mogul you've never heard of.

    He has quietly built an empire. He owns eight office towers in Clearwater, Tampa and Brandon, as well as 10 mobile home and RV parks in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties. His other parks dot the rest of Florida and Texas.

    He has always kept a low profile, but he's made headlines recently. He sold off one of the area's top hotels, Tampa's Westin Harbour Island with its popular restaurant, Jackson's Bistro. He's evicting tenants from a Clearwater trailer park to clear the way for waterfront condos....

    Maurice Wilder owns office buildings such as the Clearwater Towers, in rear. His car collection includes this 1934 Oldsmobile.
  10. Race to the beach: Clearwater Ferry

    News

    I've been stuck on the bridge to Clearwater Beach more times than I can count. On sunny spring days, the westbound half of the Memorial Causeway transforms into a two-lane parking lot. You can see the sparkling Gulf of Mexico off in the distance as you sit stewing in your unmoving car.

    So I figured it was time to try the new ferry when the boss told my fellow reporter Keyonna Summers and I to take a couple of different ways to the beach. (Another tough journalistic assignment! Why is this job so brutal?)...

    Brassfield talks with Capt. Billy Teffner while traveling to Clearwater Beach recently on the new Clearwater Ferry. The ride came with the perk of a cool sea breeze.
  11. Vacant tower in downtown Clearwater being converted to condos

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — The old AmSouth bank building, located in a prominent spot in downtown Clearwater, has sat empty and largely untouched for years. Different plans to redevelop it have come and gone.

    But lately there have been dramatic changes at the 10-story building at the northeast corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue, across the street from the Harborview Center and the Capitol Theatre....

    A representative for the developer of SkyView condominiums at the former AmSouth bank building, left, says the inside of the structure has been completely gutted.
  12. Murray Studio Theatre reopens at Ruth Eckerd Hall

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    Ruth Eckerd Hall's smallest theater used to have big problems. Its door was next to the stage, letting light in and breaking the mood anytime someone had to leave. Its box office was hard to find. Its chairs squeaked.

    But the newly reopened Murray Studio Theatre has fixed those issues. The doors open in the rear, nowhere near the stage. The box office is in a more obvious spot. The new seats — which are quiet — can be arranged in several different ways, including stadium seating or cabaret style....

    Ella Jet plays at the Murray Studio Theatre, which will also be used for shows produced by the students of the Hoffman School.
  13. Construction work on U.S. 19 reaches milestone

    Roads

    CLEARWATER — After six long years of orange barrels, concrete barriers, periodic road closings and lane shifts, frustrated commuters on U.S. 19 are getting a bit of relief.

    Traffic on U.S. 19 through Clearwater and northern Largo has finally been shifted off the frontage roads and onto a new free-flowing highway that has been constructed down the middle of the roadway corridor....

    Traffic crosses the recently opened northbound lanes of U.S. 19 over Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater.
  14. Lawsuit against Clearwater Marine Aquarium is thrown out

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — An appellate court on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit that sought to derail the results of a 2012 voter referendum that cleared the way for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's potential move to downtown Clearwater. In that referendum, Clearwater got voter approval to negotiate with the aquarium for a 60-year lease on the waterfront property currently occupied by Clearwater's aging City Hall. Those negotiations are still ongoing. The Clearwater residents who filed the lawsuit, Thomas Petersen and Inge Spatuzzi, argued that the referendum's results should be voided because the ballot's language was defective. But the city of Clearwater countered that the ballot language was clear. A circuit judge ruled in the city's favor last June, and an appellate court just upheld his ruling....

  15. Clearwater CEO opens North Pinellas business incubator

    Business

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater is a long way from Silicon Valley. It's not widely known for its high-tech startup companies.

    Locally, Tampa and St. Petersburg have launched business incubators and startup accelerators to give emerging tech entrepreneurs a leg up — Clearwater, not so much.

    However, one local CEO is taking steps to change that.

    Steve Allen, founder and chief executive officer of the growing iDatix Corp., has opened a business incubator on the third floor of his company's headquarters at 1499 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd....

    Steve Allen, founder and CEO of iDatix Corp., opened a tech incubator at his company’s Clearwater headquarters.