CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. - The Clearwater Beach Marina building resembled a tugboat when it was built back in 1953. It's nautical design welcomed those who came.
"This used to be the hub of the beach if you will, before we had growth out here over the last sixty years," said Bill Morris, Clearwater's Marine and Aviation Director.
But now, Frank Chivas, who owns the Salt Rock and Island Way Grills, wants to open the Marina Cantina and return the building to its once prominent standing. Thursday night, the Clearwater Council approved a contract to have Chivas enhance the location. The cantina's nearly three million dollar renovation, at no cost to taxpayers, would transform the entire second floor for indoor and outdoor dining.
"Up here on the third floor we're going to have a large Tiki deck with phenomenal views out over the marina and out to the Gulf of Mexico," explained Morris as he pointed to views from the third floor roof top.
Morris says the idea is to maintain a sense of nostalgia with the renovated marina building. Port hole type windows will be kept in an effort to authenticate the 1950's feel.
Dan Beach, who owns Harbor Barber and Beauty Salon, is glad to see such positive growth.
"I think it's great. It should be great for the businesses in the area," said Beach.
With the exception of the gift shop, who's lease expires at the end of the year, all of the current first floor businesses will stay in place. Patty Wolkowsky owns the Marina restaurant. But instead of viewing the new cantina as competition to her business, she sees them both being a part of something bigger.
"Aside from his restaurant, or my restaurant, it's going to be for all of the fisherman and all of the leisure boats out there. I think it's just going to be a new happening spot for the beach," Wolkowsky said.
Renovations at the marina should start some time in October, with completion of the Marina Cantina expected in late 2013 or early 2014.
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