CLEARWATER - During Monday's City Council work session, Assistant Planning Director Gina Clayton presented the results of a survey of Clearwater's downtown historic resources. Conducted by Janus Research, its purpose was to determine the feasibility of establishing a Historic District in Clearwater's downtown.
Janus found only two downtown properties currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cleveland Street Post Office and the Old Pinellas County Courthouse. In addition, Janus found that Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church would be eligible for such listing.
Janus also found a total of nine properties that would be eligible for listing on a Local register, if one existed. In addition to the three already mentioned, they include six historic buildings that are ineligible for national listing because of the extent of alterations they have undergone: Coachman Building, Guarantee Title and Trust (now housing the One Stoppe Shoppe), Ft. Harrison Hotel, Clearwater Masonic Lodge, Bank of Clearwater and Calvary Baptist Church.
In addition to their diminished historic value, most of Clearwater's older buildings are not concentrated in an area small enough to be considered a district, Clayton explained. "The study determined that at this point in time there is no defensible historic district in downtown," she said.
Ironically, as Clayton was presenting the study, Calvary Baptist Church, one of the historic properties cited in the study and the immediate neighbor of Clearwater's City Hall, was in the process of being demolished. Opus South Corporation began the demolition several days earlier to make room for its Water's Edge mixed-use development, eliminating a piece of Clearwater's history from a downtown that had just been denied its own historic district.
Mike Sanders, Clearwater's honorary historian, said, 'Clearly, the City's interest is in redevelopment of downtown rather than the adaptive reuse of our historic resources." He cited several other historic properties that either already have or soon will become victims of redevelopment: the West Coast Hotel building, circa 1925 and once the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies; the old Army/Navy Surplus Store at Station Square, circa 1915; the Bayview Hotel, circa 1911 and once the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
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