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Condos may rise on church property

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If built, the 25-story project, called Water’s Edge, would be the tallest building in Clearwater. By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published May 27, 2005 CLEARWATER – Opus South officials submitted plans Thursday to redevelop the Calvary Baptist Church property into a mixed-use neighborhood, a much anticipated first step in the company’s $250-million strategy to bring life to Clearwater’s floundering downtown. A 25-story high-rise would redefine the church property overlooking Clearwater Harbor, with the tower transitioning from beige to white up its sleek, stucco facade. Storefronts would line Osceola Avenue. Called Water’s Edge, the 157-condominium project would include 300 parking spaces in a four-story garage along with a rooftop pool. It is the first of three phases in a massive redevelopment that would include moving City Hall. Officials are banking on the $250-million project to match the downtown successes in St. Petersburg and Tampa, while fighting perceptions downtown Clearwater cannot be rehabilitated. Opus officials, meanwhile, must sell the merits of the project to voters, who by city charter have final say on City Hall. This first part of the plan, however, does not require a referendum because it is on private land. If built, the residential tower would rise 264 feet, making it the tallest building in the city, at least for now. Another downtown developer has discussed a project with a taller building, maybe 30 stories high. But Mayor Frank Hibbard called Opus’ project, the “cornerstone” of the new downtown. “The question is whether we want to get healthy,” Hibbard said. “Right now, (downtown Clearwater) is sick. It’s kind of like Jan. 1, and you finally make the decision to get back into shape or continue on the path you are on.” “I choose health,” Hibbard said. Planning officials will now review Opus’ project, with the city’s planning board scheduled to hear the proposal in August. A referendum regarding City Hall has been scheduled for November. Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 445-4160 or Source:
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