FOUR KEY STRATEGIES UNDERPIN A SUCCESSFUL FUTURE WATERFRONT
The waterfront must be anchored by a dynamic new open space. The waterfront should comprise of a series of distinct experiences from the water to downtown, activated by new uses and captivating elements unique to Clearwater. Clearwater deserves a revitalized and enhanced Coachman Park that serves a broad pool of users and flexibly accommodates a greater variety of activities, including passive and active recreation, to promote year-round enjoyment.
- The Civic Gateway: A grand entry gateway at the site of the existing Harborview Center will invite pedestrians into the waterfront from Cleveland Street - Downtown's 'main street'.
- The Green: Proceeding down an iconic staircase, visitors will be greeted by the sweeping Green, lined with native shade trees and anchored by a state-of-the-art new bandshell that will dramatically improve the event-going experience at the park.
- Coachman Garden: Featuring a modern new playground, with play equipment designed in collaboration with local artists, Coachman Garden will be located steps from the Main Library, providing families with another reason to visit and spend time in downtown.
- The Estuary: A lush respite for visitors in search of a quiet waterfront experience a short walk from the rest of Downtown, the Estuary will also provide a safe and convenient natural experience for Clearwater's young people to enjoy and study for generations to come.
- The Bluff Walk: Tying these sets of diverse experiences together will be the park's Bluff Walk, an active linear promenade that utilizes Clearwater's unique topography, provides unparalleled views, and stitches together the waterfront and downtown.
Access to the Site Should Incorporate All Modes. Imagine Clearwater will promote access and multimodal connectivity to the waterfront to support activity and vibrancy at the park and throughout downtown. Pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists should all be able to access the site safely and conveniently, a goal that will require a thoughtful reorganization of key waterfront nodes, and is essential to growing downtown visitation.
The Plan's multi-modal access strategy considers:
- Pedestrian and Cyclist Access: Pedestrian mobility is at the foundation of park activation; connections between the waterfront and broader downtown should first prioritize non-vehicular modes of travel. Pedestrians and cyclists will access the waterfront through a series of dedicated paths that are well-lit and shaded.
- Transit Access: Diverse transit and multi-modal opportunities will help to better connect and integrate Downtown Clearwater and the waterfront, including Jolley Trolley, the Clearwater Ferry, nearby Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority routes, and connections to the Pinellas Trail.
- Vehicular access and Parking: Although other modes of transit have been prioritized, residents and visitors of the waterfront can make use of existing parking spaces within a short walk, as well as onsite parking that will be provided for public visitors.
Coachman Park Needs an Active Edge. Successful urban parks have strong frames that attract users to the space, introduce new amenities, increase safety, and support the financial operations of the park. The bluff should incorporate uses that are new to the area and complementary to existing uses, leverage waterfront views, and maximize open space adjacencies, all as means to attracting a diverse audience downtown and to the waterfront on a regular basis.
The bluff will be activated to better frame the waterfront and connect it to downtown, all to form a unified waterfront district. The new waterfront will incorporate limited but vital private uses to ensure the long-term activation of the waterfront park and foster a vibrant pair of Downtown axes along Osceola and Cleveland. This activation will support the vibrancy of the park, as well as Cleveland Street.
The City owns three important parcels on the bluff, which should serve as catalyst sites alongside the new waterfront park: the Harborview Center, Main Library, and City Hall. These are priority sites because they have direct access and waterfront views, they will help to connect the waterfront to Downtown and Cleveland Street, and the City can dictate the sites' design and uses.
Harborview Center: Located at the intersection of Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, the Harborview Center has the potential to become the primary, formal gateway to the waterfront. Throughout the planning process, a consensus among the community emerged - with few exceptions, Clearwater residents want to see the building razed and replaced with a public-facing use. The City should take steps to solicit private redevelopment of the northern portion of the site - rental housing or a boutique hotel, with active ground floor restaurant space - to create activity in the area on a more consistent basis.
Main Library: Activation of the Main Library with an expanded series of community uses will strengthen the space's role as a center for the community and enhance the relationship between it and its surroundings - namely the park and Osceola Avenue.
City Hall: Located at one of the most valuable development sites downtown, Clearwater residents noted that they would like to see a combination of private and semi-public activating uses on the site, including residential development and a potential cultural use.
An Improved Osceola should complement Cleveland Street. The intersection of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue, the future gateway to the waterfront, should become the crossroads for Clearwater's downtown. Strengthening Osceola will better knit together the waterfront to downtown by unifying the district, creating a park gateway, and spurring development and activity that brings people downtown and to the waterfront.
Sites Controlled by other parties: For parcels that the City does not own, it should ensure that their uses meet the community's vision and productively contribute to downtown. Key interventions include the activation of existing ground floors at Osceola and Cleveland and the redevelopment of underutilized parcels to the north and south along Osceola.
With the Capitol Theater and new civic plaza, the City should ensure that private buildings contribute to the "100% corner", with successful activated ground floor retail, streetscaping, and a strong visual presence. This crossroads of key retail businesses and cultural institutions will become known as one of the hearts of downtown.
Underutilized Parcels along Osceola are economically-valuable sites that should contribute to the revitalization of downtown. The City should focus its initial efforts on the site north of Cleveland Street, as this area of the waterfront will be the first phase for redevelopment.
THE ACTION PLAN
In order to realize the community's vision for Imagine Clearwater, an implementation strategy is required. This Action Plan provides a series of strategic implementation recommendations to serve as a starting point for the City and its partners to refine and advance. The Action Plan consists of four parts:
- Phasing: Phasing should prioritize catalytic moves that spur redevelopment beyond the City-owned sites and should minimize interruptions to existing programming. Phase 1 seeks to implement key investments north of Cleveland Street and along the waterfront to spark change along Osceola and into downtown. Phase 2 builds upon the success north of Cleveland Street and Phase 1, bringing redevelopment south.
- Governance: Implementation of the plan and long-term maintenance and operations of the waterfront park will require the development of new organizational capacity and new public-private partnerships. Cities across the country have entered into such partnerships with one or more third-party organizations with and interest in park stewardship, such as conservancies. In Clearwater, a new nonprofit should become a partner of the City to help advocate for the park, provide philanthropic and fundraising support for capital and on-going costs, assist in operations and maintenance activities, and lead marketing and programming activities.
- Funding: Public-private coordination on a long-term funding plan will be critical to the success of the waterfront in years to come. The City of Clearwater should work to create a long-term funding strategy that leverages a diverse set of funds for park construction and maintenance. No one funding source will be a silver bullet for the park's capital costs and maintenance, but in combination, a mix of funding sources will sustain Clearwater's revitalized waterfront.
- Key Next Steps: Before construction can begin, there are a number of key moves that need to take place to move Imagine Clearwater forward:
Establish a Conservancy: A conservancy's role will evolve over time, but in the near term, a conservancy can serve a critical advocacy and planning role in support of Imagine Clearwater.
Build Brand: The City and its civic partners should seek a series of "quick wins" to begin altering the identity of the waterfront and attract people there through an expansion of new, engaging temporary programming throughout the site.
Pass the Referendum: Core elements of Imagine Clearwater will require a charter referendum to be passed in order to be implemented.
An Imagine Clearwater fact sheet will give you an overview of the project.
To view the Master Plan please CLICK HERE. (This is a large file. It may take several minutes for it to open.)
To sign up for email updates on the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan Process, please CLICK HERE
For questions or suggestions, contact Gina Clayton, the city’s assistant director of Planning and Development, at (727) 562-4587.