Stakeholders Hear Ideas for Downtown Clearwater at Island Estates Event

Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities,” talked about ways to spur economic development in downtown Clearwater during a luncheon at Island Way Grill Wednesday.

Surprise and delight. Improvisation and discovery.

Ideas that could change Clearwater might come from unexpected sources, Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities,” told a room of about 100 stakeholders during a presentation about spurring economic development in downtown Clearwater on Wednesday at Island Way Grill.

A followup “For the Love of Clearwater” workshop is from 1-5 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave.

Kageyama talked about how large cities changed perceptions of public spaces, including moving traffic away from Times Square in New York City and the interactive aspects of the Cloud Gate, known as 'The Bean' sculpture, at Millenium Park in Chicago. 

Kageyama said Clearwater, like much of the Tampa Bay area, is positioned well for growth.

The city has good bones as a pedestrian friendly area and it already has destinations in the Capitol Theatre and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure at the Harborview Center downtown, Kageyama said.

As stakeholders, including the mayor and city council members, advisory board and neighborhood group members and business leaders were served grilled pineapple, chicken and lobster bisque soup in the ornate confines of the Island Estates restaurant, vendors' tents and trucks for the Downtown Clearwater Farmers Market filled Cleveland Street.

Music echoed off the buildings while business owners offered gyros, coffee, chocolates and produce.  

A Jolley Trolley came through a stop at the Harborview Center for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s downtown attraction, Winter’s Dolphin Adventure. Public works crews worked on signal repairs at Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street. Shops had their sandwich board signs on the sidewalks offering specials.

Over the Memorial Causeway Bridge, Kageyama talked about the importance of the Farmers Market and making it bigger and better. The Wednesday market recently expanded to include a Friday each month. The East Gateway Farmers Market also meets Saturdays.

He called Winter the dolphin one of the city's love notes.

“It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to build some things around this amazing creature,” Kageyama said, noting a recent economic impact study that said the aquarium is a $2.6 billion boon to the Tampa Bay area. 

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Other ideas to building the city between those elements could come from unexpected sources. 

Bill Sturtevant, president of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership, hopes to find some more "co-creators" interested in bringing ideas into action at the workshop Jan. 30. 

Events to fill in the downtime between the different things going on at the Capitol Theatre is a big need for downtown, Sturtevant said.

He said the downtown group, which formed seven years ago, is working on its 2013 initiatives that include business recruitment, residential development, events and communication.

The goal of the nonprofit group, comprised of downtown developers, property owners and residents, is to promote and foster downtown revitalization.

“We are in a position to capitalize on the energy,” Sturtevant said. 

Sturtevant also responded to comments on a Clearwater Patch story that the luncheon should be held at a downtown venue. He said there was not enough room to accommodate the group at The Sage venue downtown. He also said having the event there would mean it would have to be catered.

Mayor George N. Cretekos said the city needs to stand out.

“Clearwater is called the sparkling city and we need to start figuring out what that means,” Cretekos said. “It means that we stand out ... That there is something about us that makes us special. We want people to look at Clearwater and say 'I want to come to Clearwater because it sparkles, because it stands out.'”

If you go:

What: The “For the Love of Clearwater” workshop

When: Jan. 30, from 1-5 p.m.

Where: Main Library, 110 N Osceola Ave.

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