Clearwater begins negotiations with developer for downtown bluff

Staff expects to bring a deal with City Center Development to the council for a vote in August.
City Center Development's rendering of its food hall and brewery for the Harborview site.
City Center Development's rendering of its food hall and brewery for the Harborview site. [ City of Clearwater ]
Published June 4, 2021|Updated June 4, 2021

CLEARWATER — Negotiations are a go with a developer aiming to build three mixed-use projects on the downtown bluff to complement the city’s upcoming renovation of the waterfront park.

The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously for staff to begin crafting a development agreement with City Center Development, led by Jupiter-based developer Craig Govan.

Part of Govan’s plan includes a two-story food hall and brewery with rooftop terrace to be built on the corner of Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, the site of the now-demolished Harborview Center.

Assistant City Manager Michael Delk said he expects to bring an agreement to the council in August, which will specify any financial incentives for the developer and components of the buildout.

Any plan would require voter approval in a March referendum.

Mayor Frank Hibbard noted that if the council is not comfortable with the terms of a proposed deal in August, they are not obligated to move forward at all.

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“There always is the outside chance that we could have to go back to the drawing board,” Hibbard said. “What I am unwilling to do ever is to make a mistake that we will regret years from now.”

A six-member staff committee selected City Center Development’s proposal from five bids for the bluff properties the city received in April.

Govan grew up in Clearwater and ran a property management company in the city from 1985 to 1992.

He has led the development of a series of master-planned business parks, residential and big-box developments across Florida.

“I have deep roots with Clearwater and we are excited to have this opportunity,” Govan said in a statement on Friday. “Collaboration is the key to success and we look forward to seeing how we can incorporate more of the council’s vision into our development plan.”

In addition to the food hall, he proposes a seven-story, 207-unit multifamily building over a two-story parking garage for the site of the vacant City Hall on Osceola Avenue and Pierce Street. The ground floor includes space for a grocery, retail and a restaurant overlooking the park.

For the city’s third parcel, a vacant lot on Pierce Street, Govan’s plan outlines a 100-room hotel, which has been approved by Hilton to carry the Tapestry Collection label.

The three projects would surround the soon-to-be transformed waterfront park. The $64 million Imagine Clearwater park plan proposes an outdoor amphitheater, green, bluff walk, playground and gateway plaza with water features on what is now an underused park with asphalt parking.