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Building may go from dull to dazzling

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The owners of the windowless Clearwater Center office building plan on redeveloping it into 71 high-end condos with office and retail space.By GRACE CHENG Published July 8, 2005CLEARWATER – A building known mainly for its bland exterior might be a little more noteworthy by the time its owners are done with it.The Clearwater Center office building at Cleveland Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue won’t be an office building for much longer. The owners of the building plan to redevelop it into high-end condominium units.“It’s funny how many people I talk to (about the project) say they don’t know it,” said Bill Witter, the listing agent for the property. “It’s the biggest building there. And these are people who’ve lived in Clearwater for 20 years. It’s so ugly, nobody sees it.”David Stone, former president and chief executive of First National Bank on Cleveland Street, said that the building, which was built in 1972, was originally intended as a leukemia research facility, which accounts for its lack of windows. The building was never used for that purpose, and was leased for office space.The proposed project calls for 71 condominium units, with an additional 44,300 square feet of office and retail space. There will also be a three-story parking deck with 239 parking spaces.The project also includes a swimming pool, spa, fitness rooms, billiards room and caterer’s kitchen. The condos will range from $350,000 for one-bedroom units to $1.5-million for the 12 upper-floor penthouses. Witter said 18 of the units have been reserved already.The existing building is 15 stories tall and less than 50 percent full. Witter said the current tenants, which include some county social services, will move out of the building by October.Beth Coleman, president of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the project would be a great improvement to the neighborhood.“I think it’s terrific,” Coleman said. “It’ll help connect more of the street to the downtown street area.”Isay Gulley, president and chief executive of Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services, expressed concern that the agencies currently in the building could move further away from the neighborhood they serve.“Some of the services that were in there that nearby residents (from North and South Greenwood) benefited from, this might be putting those services away from the community,” Gulley said.Gulley said, however, that the project could also be a plus to nearby businesses by increasing the number of residents in the area.Guy Bonneville, co-owner of the building, said his partnership, Clearwater Centre LLC, plans to start construction on the project in November. The partnership purchased the building in October 2004 for $5.7-million. In an application filed with the city July 1, Clearwater Centre LLC valued the project at $35-million.“It may be beneficial for the community, adding more residents to the downtown area,” said city developer Robert Tefft.The proposed height of the project will be 176 feet, which is above building height restrictions, Tefft said, adding that this may affect approval of the project. Tefft said the city has not yet done an extensive review of the proposal.Source: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/07/08/Northpinellas/Building_may_go_from_.shtml
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