Business incentive plan misses marks in Clearwater

Even for a Tuesday afternoon, empty chairs sitting outside of downtown Clearwater restaurants are an all-too-common and unfortunate sight.

In an effort to bring customers, the City of Clearwater last year said it would throw some cash to any new, major restaurant or brewery that would turn downtown into a destination.

Lina Teixeira thought it would be her wine bar but recently found out, that’s not the case. 

"For me, this was a major blow,” Teixeira said. "I don't understand the rationale. It really hurts my moral."

She heard news of the incentive program, so she opened Pour Yours on Cleveland street. But when it was time to get a payment from the city, a $27,000 thank you for choosing to open downtown, she was denied.

"It’s a very big investment. If I thought I wasn't going to get the incentive plan, I wouldn’t have opened it up,” Teixeira said.

The city organization that runs the incentive plan says it has temporarily stopped it because it needs to be reworked.

It was the brainchild of Seth Taylor, who resigned after being caught on surveillance and cell phone video driving a golf cart, with a drink in hand, through a crowded restaurant space before crashing into a potted plant.

Amanda Thompson is the new director of the city’s Community Redevelopment Association and says Teixeira’s wine bar didn’t fit into the original concept, but she wants the new program to be more inclusive.

"She didn't qualify as a destination restaurant or brewery," Thompson said. "It would qualify under the changes I’m making."

Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Association hopes to announce the revamped incentive program by the end of the summer.