Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
April 2007 Community of the Month
Clearwater Main Street
Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning Announces Clearwater Main Street as the Florida Main Street Program of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture has been designated the Florida Main Street Community of the Month for April 2007.
"The Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture organization exemplifies the importance of cooperation between government and private sectors in efforts to bring about change in their downtown," said Secretary Browning.
Communities are selected as Florida Main Street Community of the Month based on their participation in the Florida Main Street program. Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture was designated a Florida Main Street Community in 1998, and with a city population of 110,000 it is one of the largest Florida Main Street communities.
Clearwater has a long and colorful history. Before Europeans ventured into what would become Clearwater, Native Americans were calling the area "Pocotopaug" which means "Clear Water". After the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 the area was opened for settlers and for a while the area was known as Clear Water Harbor. The main industries were fishing and agriculture. In 1858 the first commercial buildings were constructed, including the first post office. With the end of the Civil War, Clearwater experienced early tourism by the 1880's. Many soldiers came to the area looking for new homes and many northerners started buying winter homes. It was then that the first hotels were built in the area. Henry B. Plant, a prominent railroad developer, brought the railroad to Clearwater and also built the Belleview Hotel in 1896. It wasn't until 1906 that "Harbor" was dropped and "Clearwater" became the final name. In 1910, a fire broke out in the downtown destroying many of the wooden commercial buildings. Many buildings were rebuilt of brick, and it is those buildings that remain in the downtown core of Clearwater.
Since its designation as a Florida Main Street Community, Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture has worked to encourage and increase retail occupancy in the program area. The program has worked with property owners to rehabilitate historic buildings to their original condition. Throughout the year, several events are organized and hosted, such as the Fall Arts Stroll, Spring Pet Fair, Holiday Tree Lighting, and a Farmer's Market which operates November through April.
Clearwater is currently undergoing a major streetscape project. When many retailers expressed concerns about the construction and the loss of sales, Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture put together an informational binder called the Cleveland Street Streetscape Construction Tool Kit. This tool kit provides information on the schedule and length of street closings, the names and phone numbers of city personnel contacts, and ideas for promotions that businesses may want to conduct during construction. During and after construction, Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture has made plans to assist in advertising businesses.
During the last three years, the City of Clearwater, Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture and the Clearwater Downtown Development Board have worked diligently to bring mixed use-residential development downtown and now have several projects to show for their efforts. Townhomes, condos and apartments are all under construction or nearing completion. This development will help Clearwater's traditional commercial core become an 18 hour downtown.
At the 2006 Florida Main Street Annual Conference, Clearwater Main Street Joint Venture received several Secretary of State Florida Main Street Awards including the Honor Award for Outstanding Image Campaign or Promotional Materials - Cleveland Street Streetscape Construction Tool Kit; Merit Award for Outstanding Local Florida Main Street Program Supporter - Clearwater Community Volunteers; Merit Award for Outstanding Special Clearwater Main Street Spring Pet Fair; and Merit Award for Outstanding Retail Sales Promotion - Luck of the Irish.
Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program administered by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Office of Cultural, Historical and Information Programs, Florida Department of State, to assist traditional historic commercial corridors.
To learn more about Clearwater Main Street contact Anne Fogarty at 727.562.4044 or visit their website at www.myclearwater.com.