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What Clearwater's Saying: Will Renovated Capitol Theatre Revitalize Downtown?

As the 10-month Capitol Theatre renovation project kicks off, we want to know what you think it could mean for downtown Clearwater. Will it bring new life to the area? What else should be done?

The 10-month renovation of the Capitol Theatre that kicked off earlier this week is aimed at helping to revitalize downtown Clearwater.

Will it work?

Performing arts guru Zev Buffman, who attended Tuesday's groundbreaking, thinks so. Buffman said when it's completed in 2013, the remodeled theater will draw thousands of arts patrons downtown.

The 1921-built Capitol Theatre, once an entertainment mecca, fell into years of disrepair before a 2009 partnership with Ruth Eckerd Hall helped draw sold-out shows, events and concerts. Officials hope the renovation project, coupled with other improvement projects, will lead to a renaissance for the downtown district.

Some Patch readers also have high hopes for the project.

"SO EXCITING!" commented Clearwater Patch Facebook fan Jerri Menaul on a post about the groundbreaking.

Patch reader GP posted on a story last year that it's "great to see some life in Clearwater! I hope they can keep bringing people in."

What do you think? Will a renovated Capitol Theatre help bring more people and improvements to downtown Clearwater? Post a comment below and join the conversation.

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Jack Mortimer December 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Absolutely it will help, and it's a major piece of the puzzle. There are three primary demographics that are key to downtown's revival: locals seeking entertainment options (Capitol Theatre, Tony's); locals seeking family activities (expanded Coachman Park and amphitheater); and tourists (Marine Aquarium). The Capitol Theatre will draw tens of thousands to downtown. The proposed new Marine Aquarium facility will eventually draw tens of thousands INTO downtown (unlike the Dolphin Tale exhibit in the Harborview from which very few visitors actually cross Osceola). And an expanded, enhanced Coachman Park with plenty of activities and programming (combined with the demolition of the Harborview/Berlin Wall) will draw family-oriented events and activities while visually tying downtown to the waterfront. Together, these three factors will ensure downtown's revitalization. But all three are needed.
Merrill December 17, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Downtown's future will NOT be so bright because tourists and locals alike are uncomfortable being surrounded by religious zealots making them feel like invaders of a private territory. Sad but true.
Theodore Braden December 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Unfortunately, the above comment is completely true. People are uncomfortable seeing identically-dressed herds streaming everywhere in the downtown area. The solution? Impose taxes. They are not a religious organization, but a for-profit one.
Michael D. December 17, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Merrill and Theodore. Then you are also part of the problem. If you are scared to go downtown, how is this your town. Regardless of how you feel about the Sceintoligists if you fear being in your home because of them, then you aren't home. If you want downtown to thrive then you must venture downtown. I enjoy downtown when I am down there. I don't hassle anyone and they don't hassle me. I like the idea of a revitalized downtown, because Clearwater has much to offer and right now it is not living up to it's potential.
Marc Sterling December 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM
It'll never work unless REH gets more adventurous in its booking policy. I look at those posters and wanna take a nap on the median of Cleveland Street.
Steve Rock December 17, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I live downtown. There is something missing on Cleveland Street. A Vibe. Safety Harbor's Main St. has a Vibe. Dunedin's main drag has a Vibe. We do not have a Vibe in downtown. Why?
BULLET December 18, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Sceintoligists
Michael D. December 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Bullet, instead of looking for a real answer you go with what the citizens make the easy answer. it's really apathy. The citizens don't care enough to make it their downtown. Instead it is easier to go to Tampa or St. Pete.
L D Sledge December 23, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Downtown Clearwater has massive potential as an arts and crafts center. The theater could be the center of the draw of people to downtown. The property owners, whose properties are vacant all along Cleveland, should join and promote the city as the premier location in the state to stroll, see and buy great art and craftsmenship work, have wonderful food and have entertainment all along the way. The vacant properties could be the haven for artists of all kinds as studios, lofts for living, galleries, coffee houses, restaurants and taverns. As a writer, I long for a place to meet fellow artists and writers in a congenial and eclectic ambiance reminiscent of Paris of the 20's (which would fit right in with the theater's history), to have a coffee, glass of red, and maybe see a fine picture, read a good poem and pass a few words among friends. (To misquote Goethe). As it is, these valuable properties are rotting down before my very eyes. This is such a waste. The city, property owners and community should come together and reach an agreement as to which way our beautiful little city is to go, and just do it. We are being left behind in the dust. Once decided, and I hope it would be as an arts and crafts center as I described--then a mutual decision has a way of making that very thing happen. The beautiful old theater's resurrection could be just the stimulus needed to launch such a plan.
Merrill December 23, 2012 at 03:40 PM
@ Michael D...I am sorry but I beg to differ with you. I have now lived in Clearwater for 7 years...for the first 5yrs I did try to become involved in Downtown... Patronized the farmer's market, the few retailers there (now closed), a restaurant (now closed) Downtown has a VERY COLD VIBE, unlike Dunedin or Safety Harbor or Palm Harbor all of which are welcoming and celebrate diversity. Don't assume that people do not care. To the contrary. It's a shame that most citizens feel like outsiders in their own town! Minions of marching devotees in identical uniforms with not even a smile while scurrying around is off-putting; NOT a very welcoming sight... Sad but true. Why else do you think no retail establishments have succeeded? BTW, those charter buses marked "Flagship" speed through our streets and continually run red lights, endangering pedestrians and cars alike. What's with that???

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