The City of Clearwater and the Clearwater Redevelopment Agency (CRA) are jointly seeking requests for proposals from respondents to develop three prime waterfront sites in Downtown Clearwater.

Investment in our waterfront presents an incredible opportunity for success on some of the most scenic properties in the Tampa Bay area. The most recent figures presented last year put the three parcels’ values at a combined $23.5 million. These sites are ideally situated in Clearwater’s downtown waterfront, which sits on an elevated bluff along the Intracoastal Waterway, overlooking the beautiful Clearwater Harbor Marina.

Interested parties should note the due date for proposal submissions is April 12, 2021. The City and CRA anticipate selecting one or more preferred development partners by Fall 2021.

Harborview Site

Cleveland St. and N. Osceola Ave

The first parcel, the former site of the Harborview Center (+/- 1.43 acres), is located just to the north of the intersection of Osceola and Cleveland Street, Downtown’s major commercial corridor. Today, it is a vacant site adjacent to Clearwater’s Main Library and will be the main entry point from Downtown to the new waterfront park. The Harborview site is the City’s priority for redevelopment out of the three sites, given its strategic location and adjacency to the park entrance.

 

City Hall Site

Pierce St. and S. Osceola Ave.

The City Hall site (+/- 2.60 acres) is located at the intersection of Osceola Ave. and Pierce St., a half block south of the Harborview site. This site also has direct access to the future waterfront park and is an important connection between the waterfront and the rest of Downtown. The City has relocated its administrative functions from the site and is investigating the cost to demolish the current City Hall structure. No final decision has been made on when demolition will occur at time of issuance of this RFP. As a part of the overarching goal to encourage activity in downtown Clearwater, the City is open to respondents considering the potential for a cultural use aligned with the context of the overall site program proposed, if respondents deem this an attractive concept.

 

Pierce Street Site

Pierce St. and S. Osceola Ave

The third site available for disposition is the Pierce St. site (+/- 1.23 acres), located across from City Hall, at the intersection of Osceola Ave. and Pierce St. The site is currently an empty lot and has direct access to the waterfront park. The Pierce St. site is the only one of the three sites that does not require referendum approval prior to its disposition. The City prefers to dispose of the Pierce St. site through a fee simple disposition, as the property is not subject to the same charter limitation as the other two sites.

 

Request for proposals - City of Clearwater

Downtown Clearwater’s Redevelopment and Incentives

  • The sites overlook the new Imagine Clearwater waterfront park, is a $65 million dollar transformation of the city’s Downtown waterfront into additional greenspace, marina facilities, a playground, gardens and entertainment venues.
  • The bluff that the sites are situated along is located outside of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood hazard and risk areas and thus not subject to flood hazard regulation. The sites are also conveniently located a short distance from the world-renowned Clearwater Beach.
  • Flexibility in zoning and public incentives, and the unwavering commitment by the City and CRA to redevelop City-owned land and invest in Downtown Clearwater, make this an opportunity for innovative and unparalleled development along the gulf coast of Florida. City incentives may be available for prospective developers such as additional density, additional floor area, up to $5 million in funding for rental housing from the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency, up to $2.5 million from the city’s parking fund, as well as city support for permit and impact fees.
  • With the recent creation of an Opportunity Zone in this area, the City continues to work closely with downtown stakeholders to promote private redevelopment in parallel with the City’s significant public improvement projects.

The Imagine Clearwater Project QA

The Imagine Clearwater project and redevelopment of the bluff properties in this RFP present an unprecedented opportunity in downtown for public/private partnerships. City of Clearwater Assistant City Manager Michael Delk and Community Redevelopment Agency Director Amanda Thompson will be involved with developers throughout the entire process. They both share their thoughts on downtown’s unique opportunity in the following Q&A:

Amanda Thompson

What are the biggest opportunities or challenges facing Downtown Clearwater?
Amanda Thompson: As the Pinellas County seat, we have many institutional actors in downtown. They include the city of Clearwater, Pinellas County Government, and the Church of Scientology. Downtown Clearwater has received negative media because of some of the institutional users and therefore some of the community has a negative perception of downtown and its subsequent vacancy rate. Downtowns are the heart of their cities and Clearwater is no exception. Through massive and strategic redevelopment projects like Imagine Clearwater and Streetscape Phase III, as well as new energy from current merchants and residents, we see an opportunity to reimagine downtown to one that is vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming. Through this redevelopment opportunity, we see a tremendous potential for the private market to expand its footprint in downtown.

We’ve seen success with our food and drink grant program resulting in four new restaurants in the downtown core and three more under construction. Our public art programs have been well received, such as our Dreams of Dalí Virtual Reality Experience, which won a 2019 Creative Loafing “Best of the Bay” award. The Nolen, a 257 unit apartment building that opened in 2017, is now 97% occupied. We know that when we provide high quality experiences for our community, they show up and support downtown.

What is the biggest opportunity presented by the Imagine Clearwater project?
Amanda Thompson: Imagine Clearwater is a catalytic project to shape the future of downtown. It will leverage a popular tourist destination and build a place that serves both residents and tourists. Downtown Clearwater faces similar issues as other downtowns of our size and scope, and we’re applying best practices that will revitalize downtown with the help of pioneers and a committed resident and business community. The right developer will know how to leverage this beautiful location and meet the needs of this market.

What role does the CRA play in the success of Downtown Clearwater?
Amanda Thompson: The City of Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency’s main role is to remove barriers to redevelopment and re-establish a functioning private market in Downtown Clearwater. CRA funds are used to reduce the risk of redevelopment and to address long-standing infrastructure problems and to create and implement placemaking and placekeeping projects. We also work on telling positive success stories about downtown programs and businesses to counter the negative perception of downtown, and build the capacity of local community organizations.

How can the redevelopment of these parcels spur economic development throughout the rest of Downtown Clearwater?
Amanda Thompson: The redevelopment of these parcels will bring more people to live, work and play in downtown. Good urban design will likely connect these properties to the waterfront and to Cleveland Street in the heart of our downtown. While housing is the most important element we’re looking to build in downtown, we’re also looking for cultural amenities that give downtown visitors entertainment options. With a critical mass of “things to do,” downtown can start to add more people to the street, which in turn supports more local businesses.

Michael Delk

Why is Imagine Clearwater such an important project for the city of Clearwater?
Michael Delk: The Imagine Clearwater project will create a long-overdue spectacular waterfront park for the citizens of the city of Clearwater. Acreage of parking lots and economically underutilized and vacant commercial structures will be replaced with a great public space. This project will create a waterfront destination that features gardens, fountains, children’s play areas and a modern and fully functional music venue. Clearwater has a long tradition of bringing world-class artists to a beautiful waterfront venue. That tradition will stand out even more with this new state-of-the-art waterfront venue.

In 2014, Clearwater engaged with the Urban Land Institute to study Downtown Clearwater. What was the biggest takeaway from that study?
Michael Delk: The biggest takeaway was that our waterfront was a seriously underutilized asset and it did not provide the destination or economic impact that it should. Imagine Clearwater will address those issues with a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

What does a successful RFP respondent look like for the redevelopment of these properties?
Michael Delk: A successful respondent would be someone who has experience in urban development and will look creatively at providing opportunities for a mix of uses. They will understand and design for an active park edge that will enliven the park and create a sense of park safety and accessibility. They will also understand the opportunities provided by a public/private partnership and they will be flexible in creating a mutually acceptable development agreement that allows both parties to achieve a successful outcome.

Beach Walk transformed Clearwater Beach into a world-class tourist destination. What parallels do you see between Beach Walk and Imagine Clearwater?
Michael Delk: Beach Walk was a visionary and transformative project that changed the direction of Clearwater Beach. It resulted in increased investment of high-quality full-service beach hotels. The public spaces that were created through Beach Walk transformed the community’s front-row seat to the most spectacular sunsets in the country. The result was the creation of a truly spectacular public space. The planning effort to create incentives for redevelopment along with the public investment in Beach Walk were the catalysts for making Clearwater Beach one of, if not the most, popular public beaches in the country. We see the waterfront redevelopment in our downtown through Imagine Clearwater having the same impact.

360 Views of Downtown Clearwater Bluff Properties

FAQ for RFP

Frequently asked questions about the Requests for Proposals

What are the project goals?

The City and CRA have five major project goals for the redevelopment of the three waterfront properties included in this RFP:

  1. Increasing vibrancy and economic activity in Downtown Clearwater. The City/CRA expect that these development projects will increase Downtown’s residential population and as a result will increase the level of downtown activity.
  2. Supporting activation of the new waterfront park. The Imagine Clearwater vision is anchored by a signature waterfront park, which would benefit from a complementary mix of active uses on adjacent properties to ensure that the park is lively across a range of times and seasons.
  3. Improving connection between the waterfront and the rest of Downtown. Projects developed on the sites should enhance the pedestrian experience for residents and visitors, knitting the new activity at the waterfront back to the core of Downtown.
  4. Setting a precedent for future Downtown development. Imagine Clearwater is a transformational project, and the City expects that redevelopment of neighboring properties will follow and be instrumental in the creation of a cohesive vision for a more vibrant Downtown.
  5. Generating a financial return for the City. The City/CRA expects to generate revenues from the disposition and redevelopment of the site, including both revenues from sale or leasing of the parcels and new tax revenues.
Where is the actual RFP?
Are there any special considerations developers should take in reference to this RFP?
  1. The City is required by City Charter to hold a public referendum to sell or lease the Harborview and City Hall sites for non-City-facility uses; the Pierce St. site does not require a referendum for its disposition. The referendum process will occur following the evaluation and selection process of the prospective development partner. Referendum strategy, including specific dates and information, is further discussed in the RFP.
  2. In the RFP selection process, bonus points will also be added to developers’ bids that include cultural amenities, inclusion of more than 200 rental units among the three parcels, additional build-outs that are not currently included in the park plan, commitment to green and wellness certification standards, and proposals of additional sustainability initiatives.
Who should apply?

The City and CRA are open to a developer, or development team, which may be interested in developing one, two, or all three of the sites, understanding that the Harborview site is of special priority to the City. The optimal development partner(s) will be an experienced team that can successfully deliver a mixed-use development program that advances the City and the CRA’s vision for downtown and waterfront.

What is required in the application?

A full list of requirements is listed in the RFP here.

When is the deadline to submit a proposal?

April 12, 2021 by 12 p.m. ET.

What is the anticipated timeline?

The City and CRA’s anticipated timeline for the selection process is outlined below. Dates referring to the referendum and future stages of the procurement process (selection of development partners) are tentative and subject to change.

  • RFP Issued January 11, 2021
  • Advertise Tampa Bay Times January 13, 2021
  • Pre-Bid Conference: Virtual February 12, 2021
  • Deadline for Submitting Questions March 17, 2021
  • RFP Responses Due April 12, 2021
  • Evaluation of Proposals April 12, 2021 – April 23, 2021
  • Interviews (Invitation Only) April 26, 2021 – April 30, 2021
  • City Council Presentation (Invitation Only) May 3, 2021
  • Staff Award Recommendations May 2021
  • Staff Recommendation of Preferred Partner(s) to City Council & Request for Authorization to Negotiate June 3, 2021
  • Negotiate Deal(s) June – July 2021
  • Staff Recommend Development Deal(s) to Council August 19, 2021
  • Referendum Question(s) Development Starts October 2021
  • Referendum Information Campaign December 2021 – March 2022
  • Referendum Date March 15, 2022
Who should I contact if I have more questions?

The City and CRA welcome inquiries by interested parties, which may be directed to: Lori Vogel, CBBP, Procurement Manager (Lori.Vogel@myclearwater.com, 727-562-4632).

FAQ about Downtown Clearwater

Frequently asked questions about Downtown Clearwater

What is the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency?

The mission of the City of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency is to promote Downtown Clearwater’s ongoing neighborhood revitalization through programs and initiatives that strengthen and stimulate our local economy and environment. Read more about us.

Clearwater Community Profile Data, 2016

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Clearwater is known for its internationally famous beach, semitropical climate and cool breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. The city has a high coastal bluff which commands a picturesque view of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico. Clearwater is home to more than 110,000 residents. Learn more about our community profile.

What is the Downtown Clearwater Community Redevelopment Plan?

Downtown Clearwater will thrive as the urban core and heart of the City, as the center of business and government, and as an attractive place to live, work, shop and play. A revitalized Downtown will be achieved through quality urban design, continued creation of a high quality public realm, and a dense and livable pattern which will strengthen the overall health of the City. Read our Downtown Clearwater Community Redevelopment Plan.

What is the Imagine Clearwater Project?

The new Imagine Clearwater waterfront park is a $64 million dollar transformation of the city’s Downtown waterfront into additional greenspace, marina facilities, playgrounds, gardens and entertainment venues. The sites are also conveniently located a short distance from the world-renowned Clearwater Beach. Read more about the Imagine Clearwater project.