When hotel developers thought of a mural to meet the city’s public arts ordinance for the east side of their building, they wanted something purely Clearwater Beach.
For more than a year, the designs were developed for the hotel, which faces Memorial Causeway traffic.
An early iteration of the mural featured a vista of the beach including iconic Pier 60. Unfortunately, because the hotel name is now Pier House 60, Clearwater Beach Marina Hotel (at one time it was going to be a Hampton Inn), the design would not fly in Clearwater.
That meant scrapping the original Silas “Beach” Clifton Gatewood III design for something that would not violate the city’s stringent sign code.
So developers commissioned Beach and Johnny “Castleseed” Schunck to create another, less controversial, mural.
However, that design turned out too similar to one designed by Guy Harvey that ended up being installed at the Surf Style along Beach Walk.
Will the Third Time Be the Charm?
Now plans are in place to install a 10-by-50-foot fabric sunset mural that features leaping dolphins under a palm frond. However, developers worry the dolphin might have to be changed to a sailboat if the scene is dubbed too similar to the hotel logo, which has a dolphin outline.
“For us, a dolphin represents and says more about Clearwater than anything else we came up with,” said Jeff Kierleber, one of the developers of the marina hotel.
The Public Art and Design Advisory board agreed, and unanimously approved the mural design and a rolling ball sculpture for the hotel lobby at its April meeting.
Developers will also have to gain approval from the Planning and Development Department before installing the mural.
“I would think they would love it with Winter the Dolphin going on,” board member Howard Warshauer said.
Board Concerned About Ripping, Fading
Although the advisory board has given its OK to the design, because it features the dolphins, it also must get approval by the city's Planning Department. Chris Hubbard, the city's public arts specialist, said that typically if the volunteer board gives its approval, that works in the favor of the applicant.
“There have been challenges in the past with the sign ordinance,” Hubbard said. “These are taken on a case-by-case basis.”
Board members worried that the mural would fade and the fabric could be ripped.
The old Spyglass hotel had a mural of a hot air balloon that over time faded and gave a bad first impression coming onto the island, members said. As part of the installation, developers will have to replace the mural if the vinyl rips, fades or degrades according to special maintenance requirements.
Developers Investing More Than Is Required
Keirleber said the developers split from Hampton Inn because of art. He said that officials with the hotel chain wanted pictures of cows as art next to the room doors, not the one-of-a-kind beach art developed specifically for the hotel.
Developers paid $95,000 for the two pieces of public art, more than what is necessary under the city’s public arts ordinance, which mandates that 1 percent of a construction project that costs $5 million or more must be used to create public art or be paid into the city’s public arts fund. The amount developers needed to spend to meet the ordinance is $82,576. The mural cost about $35,000, and the rolling ball sculpture inside the lobby cost $60,000.
Aside from meeting sign code regulations, the realistic-looking mural brought up a natural concern.
“I worry about birds or wildlife flying into it,” board member Roberta Klar said.
*updated 6:07 p.m. May 3, 2012.