Developer sweetens condo proposal
By CHRISTINA HEADRICK
© St. Petersburg Times,
CLEARWATER -- A Connecticut developer will ask the City Commission next week whether it supports his latest plan to build a $100-million, 130-foot-tall, 214-unit condominium project on northern Clearwater Beach.
In return for the city's blessing, developer David Mack this week pledged up to $136,500 toward the construction of a city parking garage on the northern part of the beach, said Mack's Clearwater attorney, Ed Armstrong.
The new pledge sweetens a proposal Mack made this summer, when he offered to beautify a block of Mandalay Avenue just north of Baymont Street, along the site of his proposed development. Mack estimated that touches such as adding a crosswalk on Mandalay, planting landscaping and even creating a small public park might cost $500,000.
For the city to take full advantage of Mack's additional pledge, Clearwater would have to build a public parking garage on northern Clearwater Beach within 600 yardsof Mack's project by 2004, Armstrong said. A likely site would be at the Pelican Walk shopping center.
Until now, building such a garage on the north beach has been a second priority behind building a parking garage amid the resorts on the south beach. City officials have said they have only enough money for one beach garage.
Mack made his latest offer after city officials suggested that he do more to help beach redevelopment as part of his project, Armstrong said.
The city has some leverage because Mack needs several approvals from Clearwater officials this fall. Commissioners will begin discussing Mack's requests at their 9 a.m. Monday workshop at City Hall, 112 S. Osceola Ave.
Among his requests, Mack wants the commission to change its beach redevelopment plan, approved just this spring, and rezone the land at the site of Yacht Basin Apartments, which would be knocked down to make way for the Catalina Beach Resort Residences.
Otherwise, Mack's 130-foot-tall project would be roughly twice as high as the law allows in the area, said Assistant City Manager Ralph Stone.
City administrators such as Stone are willing to allow Mack to have the extra height largely because they approve of the design of his project.
"I would have thought this kind of design would have been more than they could have absorbed," Stone said.
Mack envisions a development with townhome-style, low-rise units on its outskirts, with several buildings gradually rising in height. One tower would be 130 feet tall.
Parking garages would be underground, and their top floors would be landscaped with walkways and recreation areas. There would be a spa and a health club, three pools and other luxurious touches, Mack said. The whole project would overlook Clearwater Harbor.
The design was discussed at several community meetings earlier this year. The only major change since then is that the number of units has been reduced from 238 to 214 as the design has been refined, said Armstrong.
It's unclear what the commission will do. Commissioners Bill Jonson and Whitney Gray said they would like to hear more public input before they make up their minds. Jonson suggested that people might want to speak at Thursday's 6 p.m. commission meeting.
"It's just the kind of thing I would love to see come to Clearwater Beach, with the only possible glitch being the height of that central part," said Gray. "It's a beautiful project. I'm interested in how the public feels about it."
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