CLEARWATER - The City and Louis Anastasopoulos, owner of Pelican Walk, ended their public/private partnership for the construction of a 300-space parking garage on North Clearwater Beach on Monday.
The City had agreed to contribute $1.4 million to the garage construction costs in exchange for Anastasopoulos' agreement that the garage be available to the general public, that it be open from 10AM to 10PM, and that the parking rates not exceed 150% of City off-street parking rates.
The agreement called for the start of construction by September 30, 2004. But Anastasopoulos was unable to meet that date and requested a six-month extension, which the City Council granted. Anastasopoulos was unable to meet the March 31 deadline and, in a letter from his attorney Nickolas Ekonomides on March 24, stated that he "no longer wishes the ($1.4 million) grant from the City." The letter stated his continued intent to construct the garage and have it open to the public.
Anastasopoulos' plans include 3 floors of condominiums, 28 units in all, over the 4 floors of parking. The garage will have 354 parking spaces, enough for the condo owners plus the 300 originally planned for the public, Anastasopoulos said. The project is scheduled for a Community Development Board hearing on April 19. Anastasopoulos plans to start construction as soon as he can obtain permits, and anticipates construction to take no more than 16 months.
Asked why he sought termination of the agreement, Anastasopoulos said, "I didn't want to be obligated to the City," and expressed frustration with the lengthy City approval process. He added, "They (the City) will have what they hoped for the public without any public funds; I'm showing again that I'm a good citizen."
The termination of the agreement frees-up the $1.4 million the City had committed to the project. Councilmember Hoyt Hamilton said, "I absolutely believe we should use that money for the same purpose." He named 4 City-owned sites on which a garage could be built: South Gulfview at the Adams Mark, McKay Park, Clearwater Beach Rec Center, and Mandalay Park between the Rockaway Grill and Palm Pavilion. Because Hamilton's family owns the Palm Pavilion, he said he'd participate in discussions about Mandalay Park, but would recuse himself from voting on any resolution involving it.
Mayor Frank Hibbard said that Mandalay Park is the most logical place for a North Beach City-owned garage. He favors a concept that would incorporate the Clearwater Beach Fire Station and the Beach Library branch in the same structure.
The North Beach parking issue and use of the $1.4 million that had been dedicated to Pelican Walk will be on the agenda at the next Council Work Session on April 18.
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