Clearwater officials last week named Courtney Orr, 33, who now works in Pinellas County's communications operation, to the new job of downtown manager.
Orr's duties will include marketing downtown Clearwater, recruiting new businesses, managing events, and running or helping with programs designed to aid merchants.
Hiring Orr is the latest in a series of steps the city has taken to enhance downtown. Recently, the city completed a $10-million makeover of Cleveland Street.
The job pays $68,000 a year, but city officials said Orr's hiring won't be affected by cutbacks forced by Amendment 1, the just-approved state constitutional amendment that will expand the property tax exemption for homesteads and reduce revenue to local governments.
That's because her position will be financed by Clearwater's Community Redevelopment Agency, which gets its revenue from the growth in property tax receipts generated by downtown redevelopment. The agency is required to invest that revenue back in downtown.
Eileen Schulte, Times staff writer
Artists displaced by fire resume monthly event
A Dec. 9 fire destroyed their studios and consumed decades of their labor, but the 15 displaced artists of the Imago Art Gallery are returning to work.
On Friday, they resumed their first Friday of the month open house tradition. The event was held in a previously empty, city-owned building at 620 Main St. that city commissioners gave to the artists rent-free for six months. At the open house, each artist was presented with a check for about $2,500. The money came from the more than $37,600 donated by the community.
All leads in the arson have been exhausted, said Sgt. Jim Bordner, spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. As a result, the case has been suspended until investigators receive more information.
There are plans to rebuild, said the Imago's owner, Harry Williams. The charred remains of the single-story structure have been razed. Williams has hired a construction company and engineers. He's planning to build a two-story gallery with space for twice as many studios and larger teaching facilities.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477 or the Sheriff's Office's arson unit at 582-6200.
Tamara El-Khoury, Times staff writer
Bay Pines Marina owners look to expand
The owners of Bay Pines Marina have asked the county for permission to more than double the number of dry slips as part of a proposed expansion of the business.
The Jan. 16 petition amends a request filed last year. The new application asks permission to make massive changes to the marina at 5000 92nd St. N.
The marina, built in the 1970s, has 60 wet slips, 300 dry slips, a fueling facility, a sewage pump-out station, a loading ramp and a bait shop. The owners, East Madeira Corp. and Travis Corp., want to add 400 dry slips, build 163 wet slips after eliminating some of the existing ones, dredge the area, install a canoe/kayak launch site, and build a passageway along the seawall.
The revamped marina would have 700 dry slips and 163 wet slips. All would be open to the public.
Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer