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Pedestrian bridge gets ax

Saving $2-million, the city will build a crosswalk with a traffic light at Aqualea resort.

By MIKE DONILA
Published February 27, 2007


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CLEARWATER - City leaders will nix plans to build a pedestrian bridge over a popular beach road, a move designed to save roughly $2-million.

The walkway, which would have been more than 20 feet tall, was to stretch from the parking garage of the Aqualea resort project on S Gulfview Boulevard and onto the beach, near a new concessions stand. It would have been built about a quarter-mile south of the roundabout and would have included stairs and an elevator.

When initial development plans were proposed years ago, the city wanted the bridge to provide a "safe access route" to the parking garage, said Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback. Under the plan, Aqualea developers would build the $2-million bridge and the city would reimburse them.

But the project has since changed hands, and the current developer, NJR Development Co., reconfigured the garage so that the bridge was no longer needed, Brumback said.

NJR earlier this month went over the new plans with the city's Community Redevelopment Board, which unanimously approved them. The council is expected to officially sign off on the plan Thursday.

"This is going to return the pedestrian traffic to the street level and that's really what we want," said Michael Delk, Clearwater planning director. "We actually consider this to be an improvement."

Delk said visitors shouldn't worry about motorists, since "Gulfview by design is designed to be slow and meandering for vehicles."

He added that the city still has plans to build a crosswalk with a pedestrian traffic light in front of the resort.

NJR will still build a 1,200-square-foot concessions stand that the city will own. It will be operated by the Hyatt Corp., which will also manage the Aqualea resort.

After some delays, work on the Aqualea began in December as crews began laying the groundwork for what will become the 150-foot-tall tower and include 250 condominium-hotel units and up to 24 condominiums.

The overall $140-million project should be finished in about two years, but developers and the city say the parking garage could be up and running sometime next year.

This 750-space garage will include 400 public spaces. This is key because Beach Walk - a city revitalization initiative that includes walkways, plazas, greenery and fountains - will take away about 500 existing public spaces beginning next year.

The Aqualea project will replace the old Glass House Apartment Hotel and Beach Place, which took up about 2 acres.

Aqualea's condo-hotel units will be individually owned, but primarily rented to guests. Those units will cost between $500,000 and $2-million, while the traditional condominiums will cost between $2-million and $5.5-million.

Fast Facts:

 

Aqualea Resort condo-hotel

The Aqualea Resort and Residences is a Hyatt project at 301 S. Gulfview Blvd., on Clearwater Beach. The resort will feature a spa and fitness center, a club, terrace restaurant, pool, room service and daily housekeeping service.

Here's a snapshot of what's going in:

- 250 condo-hotel units priced between $500,000 and $2-million.

- Up to 24 condominiums priced between $2-million and $5.5-million.

- A parking garage with 750 spaces, 400 of them available to the public.

For more information, visit www.aqualearesort.com.

[Last modified February 27, 2007, 10:54:22]


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