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103 leased lots to ease loss of beach parking

With a major project on the beach taking spaces soon, Clearwater had to find extra lots.

The City Council on Thursday signed off on a plan that will provide temporary beach parking for motorists during the busy tourist season.

The council voted 5-0 to lease at least 103 spaces just south of the roundabout from a local developer who eventually plans to build a mega-condominium project on the land.

With the city set to begin chiseling away at hundreds of spaces early next month as part of its BeachWalk plan, the council wanted to move fast so people have a place to park during what is typically a packed beach from March through early June.

As it stands, more than 500 of the south beach's 750 spots will be eliminated in the next few years as the $30.4-million BeachWalk project transforms S Gulfview Boulevard into a winding promenade with expansive walkways, plazas, greenery and fountains.

The BeachWalk phase that begins in early March will eliminate about 280 spaces during the next year. The entire project is set to wrap up in September 2009.

Under the agreement approved Thursday, the city will lease the 103 spots for $120 apiece, paying roughly $12,300 per month overall.

The city expects to make $190 per month in revenues from each space, clearing about $7,200 a month. But most of that money will be eaten up to cover salaries for two parking attendants and operating the metered spaces.

"The most important thing here is that we'll alleviate some of the parking demand," Mayor Frank Hibbard said. "It certainly doesn't get us to where we want to be, but every little bit helps."

The temporary spaces will be built on a 2.7-acre site of the future Kiran Grand Resort and Spa. Under the plan, the city will lease 51 spaces where Coronado Drive and S Gulfview Boulevard split; and 16 spaces in a lot on the other side of First Avenue and Coronado Drive. Clearwater will charge $8 per day for these spaces.

The city also will lease another 36 spaces a little farther south on Coronado. These spaces will be metered parking, so motorists - depending on the day of week - would pay between 75 cents and $1.25 per hour to park there.

The city will have to invest about $10,000 to level part of the temporary parking area and restripe other parts next week.

The spaces will be open from 8 a.m. until sunset seven days a week until Labor Day. If the city is still leasing the spaces after October, they will only be open on weekends.

Under the temporary parking proposal, the city would rent the spaces monthly, probably until the end of September, when development for the Kiran Grand is expected to start.

Kiran officials had planned to start building last summer, but slow advance sales and an increase in the price of construction materials and labor delayed the project.