Should Clearwater, Florida Give Up its Downtown?

The city of Clearwater in Tampa Bay has a "sleepy" downtown, much of which is owned by the Church of Scientology. Can investments by the city revive its downtown, as it did with $30 million worth of investments in Clearwater Beach?
July 7, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Mike Brassfield asks surprising questions of a recent push to revitalize downtown Clearwater—the third largest city in Tampa Bay: "Is there any hope for sleepy downtown Clearwater? Is it worth saving? And in the year 2014, in these decentralized, disconnected times, does a city even need a downtown anymore?"

His questions arise from a recent report by the Urban Land Institute that recommended a number of changes, including partnerships with the Church of Scientology, "a free parking garage, interactive fountains in Coachman Park, another entertainment venue, a water taxi between downtown and Clearwater Beach, and more."

The problem, according to Brassfield, "Downtown boosters hope to turn that wish list into an action plan. Others are leery of pouring more taxpayer money into the district, where empty storefronts persist on blocks that aren't near the recently revived Capitol Theatre."

The article goes on to examine the tricky relationship with the Church of Scientology and the big question: "Is downtown needed?"

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Published on Saturday, July 5, 2014 in Tampa Bay Times
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