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Hyatt to rise on Clearwater Beach

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The $90-million Hyatt Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa will include a restaurant and shopping. By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published December 3, 2004 CLEARWATER – Clearwater Beach’s first modern resort is a go, city officials agreed Thursday, clearing the way for a 250-room Hyatt to rise from the dust of two aging motels. When the hotel opens in 2007, it could provide a grand, mature look for a beach long known for Florida kitsch, city officials hope – a spring break stopover no more. “The Hyatt is a home run for us out there,” said Mayor Brian Aungst. “It’s going to be a fabulous resort.” Two other massive resorts are being considered for the beach, and the city already has committed to $15-million in remaking its main tourist areas. But the Hyatt will be the catalyst, said developer Brian Taub of Tampa’s Taub Properties. City Council members unanimously gave the project its final approval at a meeting Thursday after months of back-and-forth between developers and city officials. Construction begins next summer. “We’re excited to be a part of what promises to be a bright new future for Clearwater Beach,” Taub said. “We will bring a new energy that will add revenue through tourism and tax dollars.” Replacing the now vacant Beach Place and Glass House motels off S Gulfview Boulevard, the $90-million Hyatt Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa will include a restaurant, shopping and 400 public parking spaces for beachgoers. The final development agreement approved Thursday, which is amended from a former compromise, gives Hyatt control over parking rates for public users, among other things. City-owned beach lots charge $10 a day. The developer’s proposal included comparable parking rates across Florida that averaged from between $12 to $15 a day. Hyatt did not list specific parking rates. But “the best comparable is Clearwater Beach,” said council member Hoyt Hamilton, who expressed some concern about the proposed rates. Hamilton, whose family owns a Clearwater Beach hotel and ran the city’s South Beach Pavilion, also questioned a requirement that the city rent certain types of beach chairs and umbrellas on the sand in front of the resort. If the city’s rental provider is unable to meet Hyatt’s standards, the resort has the right to take over the beach service. “We want the beach to present a unified, homogeneous experience,” Hamilton said. “These specifications are dramatically different as to what has been provided before. This is not Hyatt’s beach. This is Clearwater’s beach.” Other council members said the distinctive beach gear would provide tourists options. Rooms in the Hyatt would rent for about $189 a night, and the hotel will be linked to the beach by a pedestrian bridge over S Gulfview. Hyatt will operate a small cafe on the beach side of the bridge, which will sell nonalcoholic drinks, packaged food and small beach items. Developers hope to break ground next summer with completion scheduled in 2007, a year before the city’s major BeachWalk restoration is finished. BeachWalk will transform S Gulfview into a winding promenade, bordered by expansive sidewalks and several pedestrian plazas. The $15-million project is funded in part by Hyatt’s developers and is scheduled to open in November 2008. “There are some out there that say this is changing the beach forever, that the hotel is just too massive,” said council member Bill Jonson. “But there are a lot of folks that say this is time. I’ve been a little bit surprised at the number of folks that are ready.” Two other resorts also are seeking approval to build on Clearwater Beach. One, just north of the Hyatt, proposed by Tampa entrepreneur Kiran Patel, would include 350 hotel rooms. The other would remake the landmark Clearwater Beach Hotel. Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 445-4160 or Source:
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