Britt's Gets Parking Garage Nod
By Anne McKay Garris
"If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is," quoted Councilmember Carlen Petersen, Thursday night, just before voting to approve moving forward on negotiating a plan which would provide Clearwater Beach with a 300 unit public parking garage which would not cost the City of Clearwater anything.
With LOM, the owners of the Britt's Restaurant property on South Gulfview, offering a no cost public parking garage in a location safer for pedestrians. It was a deal that would not get the city into potential trouble with the next door Hyatt Hotel by building a rival public parking garage. With all these advantages what other real choice did Councilmember Peterson have?
Of course there were caveats. The city is being asked to vacate the portion of South Gulfview in front of Britt's and to trust that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give Britt's permission to build their retail units on the ground floor in a flood plain. Also, if the portion of the LOM building should, within the next five years, be foreclosed because of bankruptcy, the city will anti-up a little over nine million dollars to take the parking garage off their hands.
The money to do this is already in place. It will come from the $10 million parking fund which formerly paid for beach life guards, cleaning the beach, debt service on the downtown parking garages and the Jolley Trolley. All but the Jolley Trolley are now being funded by the property tax supported General Fund.
Mainstream America which is offering to develop property on Fifth Street, between Coronado and Hamden Drive offered a condominium proposal with the city owning a 300 unit public parking garage within their building which would also house retail uses. The Mainstream location was cited as less likely to cause enormous traffic tie-ups during maximum use, but more expensive to the city and more dangerous to the pedestrians who would have to cross busy Coronado Avenue to get to the beach.
After extensive input from representatives of both companies, discussion closed with Councilmember John Doran's comments of, "We are aware that no parking garage ever pays for itself and that a parking garage is only needed on Clearwater Beach about 60 days out of the year." The Council voted unanimously to start negotiations on the South Gulfview property proposal.
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