BUSINESS INCENTIVES AND GRANT PROGRAMS IN DOWNTOWN CLEARWATER

Planning and development for the revitalization of Downtown Clearwater is in full swing. The City is proud to offer distinct business opportunities in Florida and invite you to explore our business incentive programs and business grant programs below.


Update as of April 21, 2021: The city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency has adopted three new business assistance grant programs for downtown Clearwater commercial property owners and tenants starting May 1, 2021. The programs total more than $1.5 million over two years and are at three varying levels that address both short and long-term challenges in the CRA’s 488 acre boundary.

The three grant programs are focused on reducing blight and filling vacant ground floor commercial spaces with uses that generate pedestrian activity within the entirety of the CRA district. Once approved, applicants will have between six months and one year to implement interior or exterior renovations.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting May 1 and are subject to CRA approval and budget availability. Interested parties should note that no projects will be funded retroactively, and applications must be approved prior to beginning work.

Throughout the months of May and June, CRA staff will be available for office hours to answer questions on the three business assistance grant programs. Interested parties can book a time to meet with CRA staff every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon to learn more

NEW: Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Commercial Beautification Program

Type of program: Grant

Program Allocation Guidelines: This program is intended for exterior renovations and repairs that do not exceed a total project cost of $25,000. The CRA will fund 100% of the cost of eligible improvements up to $5,000, and provide a 50% match towards the total project cost, up to a maximum of $12,500 per application. (Total CRA budget for this program: $250,000)

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: Funds are for exterior improvements to commercial property. Commercial Beautification Grant property must be in the CRA. Tenant or property owners are eligible. Business Tax Receipt (formerly known as an Occupational License) must be current. Application must be approved prior to work being started.

Program Approval:  Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Documents:

NEW: Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Whitebox Program

Type of program: Grant

Program Allocation Guidelines: This program is intended for interior and exterior renovations and repairs that do not exceed a total project cost of $100,000. The CRA will fund 100% of the cost of eligible improvements up to $25,000 and provide a 50% match towards the total project cost up to a maximum of $50,000 per application. (Total CRA budget for this program: $300,000)

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: Funds are for interior and/or exterior renovations to commercial property. Whitebox Grant property must be in the CRA. Tenant or property owners are eligible. Business Tax Receipt (formerly known as an Occupational License) must be current. Application must be approved prior to work being started.

Program Approval:  Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Documents:

NEW: Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Vacancy Reduction Program

Type of program: Grant

Program Allocation Guidelines: The CRA will provide a 50% match toward the total project cost for building improvements that stay with the building up to a maximum of $500,000 for Part A. Additional funding up to $500,000 will be available for catalytic uses that serve as a destination in downtown for Part B. (Total CRA budget for this program: $1 million)

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: Funds are for interior and/or exterior renovations to vacant, ground floor commercial or mixed-use property. Vacancy Reduction Grant property must be in the CRA. Property owners are eligible. Ad-valorem property tax exempt properties are not eligible (in cases where a portion of the property is tax-exempt, funding may be made only to the taxable portion/percentage of the property). Application must be approved prior to work being started.

Program Approval:  Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Documents:

Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Façade Improvement Program

Type of Program: Grant/Loan

Program Allocation Guidelines: Part 1: Design Services – Up to $4,000 per address. Part 2: Façade Improvement – fast track grant of $25,000 grant, 50/50 match. Additional funds are available as a percentage according to meeting a set of criteria. 

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: Funds are for design assistance and façade renovations. Facade Improvement Grant property must be in the CRA. Tenant or property owners are eligible. Business Tax Receipt (formerly known as an Occupational License) must be current. Application must be approved prior to work being started.

Program Approval: Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Documents:

 

Sidewalk Café Furniture

Type of Program: Grant

Program Allocation Guidelines: Up to 75% of total cost, applicant pays 25%. Up to $2,500 per grant

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: Available to property owners or tenants for outdoor furniture (tables, chairs and umbrellas) specified in an approved site plan from the City’s Planning Department. Pre-application meeting required with Planning Department. Submittal of a completed Sidewalk Cafe Furniture Grant Application. Copy of approved Sidewalk Cafe Permit. Business Tax Receipt must be current. Street furnishings purchased prior to approval are ineligible for reimbursement.

Program Approval: Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Documents:

 

Community Redevelopment Agency Incentive Request

The majority of the CRA’s annual funding is allocated to capital improvement projects and existing grant programs. The 2018 Clearwater Downtown Redevelopment Plan contains an adopted evaluation framework for all incentive requests listed below:

  • Is the proposed incentive compliant with federal, state and local laws?
  • Is the proposed incentive aligned with the Vision and Goals of the 2018 Downtown Redevelopment Plan?
  • Has the private sector attempted to implement this project without an incentive?
  • What is the expected return on investment from a financial and public benefit perspective?
  • Does the site/building under consideration have adequate access to the required public infrastructure and/or public utilities to support the proposed use?

 Download the form here. Please read and fill out this form to initiate a conversation about incentives.

 


Other incentives and grants through the city of Clearwater:

 

Community Development Block Grant Façade Improvement Program

Type of Program: Loan-to-Grant

Program Allocation Guidelines: Up to $35,000 (property owner contributes private funds equal to or greater than 20% of the established loan amount).

Program Overview and General Eligibility Criteria: The Community Development Block Grant Facade Improvement Program is designed to encourage the rehabilitation of commercial building facades and assist with exterior improvements, correct code violations or deficiencies, and to promote design improvements that improve overall aesthetics and ultimately attract more business activity in the city of Clearwater’s low- to moderate-income areas. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds the program. All relevant federal regulation applies. The city of Clearwater Affordable Housing division administers the program. Contact the City of Clearwater Affordable Housing Division to learn more.

Program Approval: Economic & Housing Department 

Documents:

 

Other funding opportunities through the Clearwater Downtown Development Board:

The Downtown Development Board’s (DDB) primary purpose is to support activities that attract businesses, residents, and visitors to Live, Work, and Play in Downtown Clearwater. The DDB funds special events, business assistance, and marketing efforts throughout its district.

Program Overview and Eligibility: Property owners, businesses, and residents located within the DDB district and/or projects that will occur in the district are eligible for funding. Funding requests will be considered on a monthly basis. The DDB will prioritize funding requests that align with their adopted work plan in the areas of Marketing and Businesses Assistance. A map of the DDB District is included within the application.

Program approval: Downtown Development Board

Documents:

  • 2020 Downtown Development Board Funding Request Form