Another Try At Beach Parking Garage Decision
By Anne McKay Garris
Billed as the final round, the battle of the beach parking garage location will be fought tonight at Clearwater City Hall. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. The encounter can happen anytime thereafter.
In one corner is Mainstream Partners, offering condominium ownership to the city of a 300 space public parking garage in a proposed retail building, with options of buying more at a later date. Mainstream property is on Fifth Street, east of Coronado Drive, across the street and a block and a half away from the beach sand. Cost, per parking space to the city is expected to be $33,000 for the first 300 hundred and $37,000 a space for any additional. The handicap is the potential total cost of $17 million plus.
The reason for the delay in purchasing more than 300 spaces at the beginning lies with the city's deal with the nearby Hyatt Hotel which limited the number of public parking spaces the city could provide in a given distance of the Hyatt. The proposal to purchase 300 spaces in advance from Mainstream Partners, and agree to buy more later, helps the city to believe it is keeping its agreement with Hyatt.
One advantage of the Mainstream proposal is that it will provide 500 public parking spaces.
In the other corner of the Beach Parking Garage match is the South Gulfview location generally referred to as Britt's Restaurant area. Owned by L.O.M., Inc. this location has the advantage of being just across South Gulfview from the beach sand. L.O.M. has offered to build 300 public parking spaces in a new retail building with no cost to the city. The company plans to operate the parking garage according to city standards. If, however, the parking garage part of the project winds up in bankruptcy, the city would agree to buy the parking garage part of the building for a total of $9,300,000, or approximately $31,000 a space.
The big negative for L.O.M. is that it will need a determination by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would allow them to build retail use on the ground floor in a flood zone. They expect it will take up to 8 months to obtain this approval. If the approval is not forthcoming from FEMA, the project will not proceed and we will back to square one on a parking garage for Clearwater Beach.
This, however, would have the approval at least of the Clearwater Beach Association which has contended for years that a parking garage was needed at only certain times of the year and, at those times, would not be adequate to really take care of the needs.
Nevertheless, the idea of approving a public parking garage that could, possibly, be cost free to the taxpayers of Clearwater makes the L.O.M. proposal most attractive.
Both sites pose an additional problem. The traffic build-up of so many cars in a limited area would call for one-way streets, a solution which would put even more Clearwater Beach businesses out of business.
However, as one city official commented this week, "Much of this may be changed by Thursday night, it's been happening on a regular basis."
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