The City Council was united in support for the $84 million transformation of the downtown waterfront, which will now break ground.
CLEARWATER — After more than five years of planning, designing and talking about transforming the downtown waterfront, the City Council on Thursday gave the final approval needed to break ground on what has become an $84 million endeavor.
The council voted unanimously to approve a proposal from the construction company Skanska for Imagine Clearwater, which accounts for $55 million of the total cost. The milestone prompted a round of applause in the chambers.
The overall price tag — $20 million more than earlier estimates — was not lost on city officials. They urged residents to trust the effort aimed at bringing life to a downtown area that has stagnated for decades with empty storefronts, businesses that have come and gone, and inconsistent visitors despite its prized views of the Intracoastal waterway.https://26e97c3e216b9b22169e5b446516a109.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“Yes this is the biggest ticket item the city has ever endeavored into and I have every confidence in the world it’s going to turn out exactly the way we want it,” council member Hoyt Hamilton said.
Construction is expected to be completed in July 2023 on the park, which will include an outdoor amphitheater, a bluff walk, garden, lake area, gateway plaza, shade structures and water features.
Townhall meetings to gather citizen input for the Imagine Clearwater concept began in 2016. But Mayor Frank Hibbard said, for him, the urgency to do something about the city’s prized downtown waterfront, which is covered by an asphalt parking lot and few things for residents to do, is what prompted him to first run for office in 2001.
“This is a generational project,” Hibbard said. “You’re here to see it. This is the next step and we should not compromise on quality. That will be something that we regret.”