New, faster push to revamp business along major Clearwater corridor

Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 18:14:26-04

Clearwater leaders hope to bring back business to the struggling areas near US 19.

Many businesses were forced to close during the highways construction which lasted nearly 10 years.

"The construction kind of chased a lot of people away because can't afford to pay the bills," said Nunciata Bowers who owns A & N Italian pork and deli in Clearwater.

She's seen nearby businesses come and go along US 19 during construction.

Now, there may be hope for a chance at new neighbors.

Earlier this year Clearwater city council members rezoned seven miles off the highway for new retail, commercial and residential space.

Lauren Matzke with the city's planning and development department says that will save investors time in having to ask for rezoning themselves and months of waiting for public hearings.

Bill Mazas owns a strip mall off US 19 and helped with rezoning efforts.

He'd like to replace his lot with me apartments and retail space, but he wants other developers to take action as well before he begins his own major project.

"I think that the city's going to have to be a little instrumental helping the property owners along the way," he said.

He hopes to start seeing new developments like what he'd like to build within the next five years.

He thinks the new rezoning is the first step in the right direction after years of waiting.

"I'm sure everybody knows us 19 has been a work in progress do the last decade if not longer," he said.

Investors can now bypass the rezoning process and submit their plans for city approval.

This is part of the city's overall US 19 Redevelopment Plan for the corridor.