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Brewery application still moving through review
CLEARWATER — An application to establish the first onsite beer brewery on Clearwater Beach is making its way through the city's review process.
City planner Mark Parry confirmed Tuesday that the application has not been rejected by the city, despite some rumors.
“The application remains in process. We are working on conditions of approval.”
The request was returned to the applicant for clarification on a few items, including how many new jobs the restaurant will create and where employees will park. City staff has until the end of Friday to review the responses before submitting comments to Parry.
“If everything is in order, then I will develop conditions of approval and send everything over to the planning director,” he said.
The city's community development coordinator will make a decision within 20 business days of the development committee's initial review Jan. 2 whether the application complies with city codes.
Paul O'Renick of Clearwater Beach Brewing Co. wants to open the brewery and restaurant. And Richard McKenna, president of Mandalay Building Partnership, which owns a surf shop on the southeast corner of Mandalay Avenue and Baymont Street, wants to construct a new building for the venture.
Belleview Biltmore gets another lease on life
BELLEAIR — The Belleview Biltmore just got another life extension, The Tampa Tribune reports.
About 200 people packed town hall Tuesday night to weigh in on a proposed change to development rules that could pave the way for the historic hotel to be razed. After hours of discussion, three of the five town commissioners voted to postpone a vote on the land-use change for another six months.
The nearly 117-year-old hotel has been in limbo since well before its May 2009 closure as city officials and residents have debated its fate. The hearing was held just as Michael Cheezem, CEO of JMC Communities, has offered to purchase and redevelop the property, which is owned by South Florida-based developers the Ades Brothers. His plan would remove the hotel to build townhomes and condos.
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Floating docks at aquarium approved
CLEARWATER — Last Thursday, the city council approved a request by Bill Morris, the city's Marine and Aviation director, to apply for a grant to help pay to replace 43 city-owned boat slips behind Clearwater Marine Aquarium with a floating dock.
The grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would go toward a 200-foot floating dock system to be used by boaters making day trips.
Veterans memorial plan gets council OK
CLEARWATER — The Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance has received council approval to go forward with plans to construct a memorial in the city's Crest Lake Park to honor those who've served in America's wars since 1917.
The project will be built in two phases, with the city and the alliance equally sharing in the total cost of $1.3 million.
The first phase is expected to cost $300,000 and involves building the plaza of pavers or concrete with half-walls that feature veteran and donor recognition plaques.
The agreement stipulates that if the alliance is unable to raise its first-phase payment of $150,000 by Jan. 1, 2016, the project will be canceled.
The second phase will cost $1 million and includes the addition of memorial sculptures and plaques recognizing the service of veterans from World War I though the present.
Council approves Capitol Theatre payment plan
CLEARWATER — The city council approved a third amendment to its Capitol Theatre operating agreement last week.
The agreement requires Ruth Eckerd Hall, which is operating the city-owned theater, to put aside $1 million a year for the next three years for repairs and maintenance.
Because of unanticipated maintenance costs at the theater, officials requested this third amendment allowing monthly payments of the first $1 million instead of the lump sum. The first $100,000 has been deposited to the city, and the remaining $900,000 is to be rendered in equal monthly payments beginning in April through the end of the year.
An unexpected $2.5-million repair to the air-conditioning system at 30-year-old Ruth Eckerd Hall on McMullen-Booth Road also led to the request to defer the total payment.
According to The Tampa Tribune, city leaders expect big returns from the Capitol, which recently was renovated for more than $8 million, exceeding its budget.
Between opening day Dec. 18 and the end of the year, the Capitol made $223,915 in gross ticket revenue, a quarter of its entire 2012 revenue of $885,467, when the theater had 287 fewer seats.
Money starting to flow in District 13 race
ST. PETERSBURG — As television commercials, online banner ads and mailers suggest, dollars have begun to flow in the special election to fill Pinellas County's open congressional seat, The Tampa Tribune reported this week.
As David Jolly's Republican primary win on Jan. 14 signaled the start of Congressional District 13's general election countdown to March 11, his Democratic rival, Alex Sink, started off with an obvious financial advantage of more than $1 million.
Jolly, meanwhile, had about $140,000 on hand as of his last campaign finance report. And as the two campaigns chase after dollars, outside groups are joining in, especially for Sink.
Her advantage lies in the fact that she can use her money for less-expensive air time while Jolly builds his war chest, because campaigns don't pay full price for television ads.
But that advantage may not last long, given that Jolly, who showed his fundraising prowess in the primary run-up, has multiple places to find funding. Those who gave to his primary run may donate again. National Republicans, who tend to stay out of primary races, also are likely to open up their wallets now.
The campaign time to fill the seat left vacant by longtime Congressman Bill Young's death last October is a fraction of a normal election cycle, which means candidates will be spending thousands on various media outlets to gain recognition.
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