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Notorious Clearwater motel site to become affordable housing development

Construction will officially kick off this week on a four-story apartment building near downtown where the Economy Inn once stood.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 1:15 p.m. June 18, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
A groundbreaking for the 81-unit affordable housing community Clearwater Gardens is scheduled for June 20.
A groundbreaking for the 81-unit affordable housing community Clearwater Gardens is scheduled for June 20.
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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The city of Clearwater is set to break ground on an 81-unit affordable housing development Thursday on the site of a former motel once dubbed “a thorn in the sides of residents and police.”

The new $32 million community will be named Clearwater Gardens and is at 1260 Cleveland St., just east of the city’s downtown.

That's the site of the former Economy Inn which the city — in a news release announcing the ceremonial groundbreaking set for June 20 — called “a former dilapidated inn.”

But even that may be an understatement.

In a 2011 Tampa Bay Times story about its demolition, the former hotel is described by residents as “an open-air drug market and a haven for prostitutes and pimps (that’s) gone for good.”

The story says in 2010 police received more than 400 calls for service there. 

“The motel, with its peeling roof shingles, also was the subject of at least two dozen city code cases since 2004 over issues such as mold, broken windows and inoperable vehicles.”

Clearwater Mayor Bruce Rector says in the statement that Clearwater Gardens "will help to transform this once-neglected site into a modern complex that will revitalize the area" and provide an opportunity to low-income residents.

The community is being built along with Archway Partners, a Miami affordable and workforce housing developer. The funding is coming from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency as well as from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

The four-story building will include 52 one-bedroom units, eight two-bed-one-bath units and 21 two-bed-two-bath units.

Units will range from 605 square feet to 929 square feet and will be open to households with incomes ranging from 30% of the area median income to 80%.

Amenities will include resident programs and activities as well as a library, children’s game room, coworking space and a tech lab, the city says in the release. There will also be community garden for residents on the northeast corner of the property next to an existing community garden.

Construction is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Along with the Clearwater Gardens project, Archway has recently finished work on the 96-unit Seminole Square Apartments in Largo and is working on the 100-unit Casa-Bel Mar apartments in Tampa. And it plans to break ground on an 80-unit affordable housing project in St. Petersburg early next year.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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