CLEARWATER, Fla. – The city of Clearwater’s North Marina Area is active with several projects helping to transform the area located just north of Downtown Clearwater. The initiatives are bringing an interest to the neighborhood where the city has directly invested or partnered with investors to help the area thrive.
An example of a success story in the area is the Clearwater Brewing Company, a former garage from 1958 that was recently rehabilitated and has been a success since its May opening. The city of Clearwater assisted the Clearwater Brewing Company owners with a $35,000 grant through the Community Development Block Grant Facade Improvement Program. “It was just what we needed to make the difference in opening as soon as we did,” said F.
Bowling, one of the owners of the Clearwater Brewing Company. “It increased our budget for our exterior. It was instrumental for us to open on time.”
The Facade Improvement Program is a loan-to-grant program administered through the city’s Housing Division to help businesses in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. Once a business qualifies for a facade enhancement through the city, the program has a ripple effect in communities, said Chuck Lane, the city’s Economic Development and Housing Department assistant director. The commercial building is enhanced and nearby homeowners and business owners are motivated to improve their property, he said.
“People see that investment,” Lane said. “They see that the neighborhood is getting better and feel that they have to do their part to continue to enhance the area.” The Community Development Block Grant Facade Improvement Program is one of several city programs helping to give life to the area.
Here are examples of city investments aimed at enhancing the area:
- The city has invested $6.5 million in 2019 for enhancements to the Seminole Street Boat Ramp and North Marina Improvements project that includes landscaping, floating docks, kayak launch, new parking areas, public walkways, public benches and additional green
- The city purchased the North Ward School for $1.8 million in 2019 from the Pinellas County School District with the goal of attracting an investor to enhance the historic school that opened in 1915 and closed in 2009.
- The city contributed funding in 2018 through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program for the building of 12 homes as part of the North Garden Avenue Project.
- The city contributed funding in 2017 through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program for the development of the Garden Trail Apartments, a 76-unit apartment complex designed for workforce housing.
“You want the public investment to be catalytic,” Lane said. “Private investment will typically follow the public investment. It encourages people, and it creates a level of excitement.”
To learn more about the programs administered by the city’s Housing Division, contact Chuck
Lane at Charles.Lane@myclearwater.com or (727) 562-4023.