CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - It’s been a staple in downtown Clearwater for 58-years. But now the vacant Harborview Center is coming down.
“This is really an exciting day for all of us here in Clearwater,” said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.
Decked out in hard hats and reflective vests, city leaders were ready to get their hands dirty Friday, symbolically smashing away with sledgehammers at the building's outer wall.
Perched on prime waterfront property, the Harborview Center is being demolished and jumpstarting the city’s Imagine Clearwater redevelopment project.
“We’re gonna do away with all that now and have a civic gateway so you have an unobstructed view of Clearwater Beach and the entire Coachman Park area,” Cretekos said.
The three-story structure was built in 1961 and operated as a Maas Brothers department store. It’s been mostly vacant since 2009.
Folks gathered Friday to celebrate the milestone of the building finally coming down.
“Oh I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” laughed Eleanore Lyda. “We’re gonna get rid of this dinosaur and have a beautiful park.”
“This is so symbolic to have this building come down because it just opens up the future,” Downtown Development Board Member Lina Teixeira said.
The event was supposed to be the kick-off to the demolition of the building, but half the structure is already torn down. Once it’s gone, downtown will be connected with the waterfront.
“The park will be beautiful; to just crest Cleveland Street and see the water, it will be just beautiful,” said Lyda.
The Imagine Clearwater project is still in the design phase. But the roughly $50-million plan includes about 19-acres of park space.
Leaders hope it will revitalize the downtown core of Clearwater.
“It’s gonna help the merchants to bring all these people down, it will have more feet on the street,” Lyda said.
“It’s gonna put us on the map and make us more attractive because it’s gonna be a great destination,” said Teixeira.
The demolition of the Harborview Center should be finished in August, and the entire Imagine Clearwater project is set to be complete in 2021.