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Live, Work, Play in the Cleveland Street District

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Billed as the "New Downtown", the live-work-play Cleveland Street District proves the revitalization of urban centers helps keeps a town alive and prospering. The nearby white sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters certainly play their part in bringing both new residents and visitors to Clearwater.

The residential real estate market is further proof that after 100 years, the town of Clearwater is alive and well. Director of Economic Development & Housing Gerri Campos Lopez tell us that "The rental market is exceptionally strong, which has resulted in an increase in rental rates." As for sales, Lopez notes, "Homes in Clearwater are more expensive than in the past and inventory is low. Sales are happening quickly and prices are rising."

As an all-year destination, the miles of beaches are a big area draw. After lapping up some sun, surf and sea time, get the sand out from between your toes and pamper yourself downtown. The District is located less than 2.5 miles away. That equates to less than an hour of walking or 5,048 steps on your counter or less time if you take the Jolley Trolley or Clearwater Ferry. According to Downtown Manager Anne Fogarty France, it's only "nine minutes if you're riding a bike and five minutes if you're driving (no traffic)."

Food, spas (five to be exact), shopping and shows are all here in the revamped Cleveland Street District. There are new markets, breweries seeking commercial space, and lots of food. Dietary and ethnic eateries abound where you can get anything from special salads, paleo and no gluten foods to Thai, Italian, Asian, German, Israeli, Greek and Spanish cuisine. Let's not forget the donuts, ice cream and baked goodies. "La Fondita de Leo, which serves Caribbean and Puerto Rican Cuisine, has authentic dishes that have been well received by visitors and residents," says France. "BayStar Restaurant Group is opening their seventh Pinellas County restaurant, the highly anticipated Marina Cantina on the Beach."

"For those who want to shop, France notes, "we have an arts center, the Marlene Rose Gallery (an internationally known glass artist), the One Stoppe Shoppe convenience store with great gifts and cards and a few boutiques. Take a shopping break to see props from the Dolphin Tale movies at Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure or view a show at the Capitol Theatre.

Those who are thinking of moving into the area will love to hear that two new buildings are currently being built right in this very district. We have the Nolen, which is a project currently under construction that will bring 257 market rate 1 & 2 bedroom apartments to the downtown. There also is the SkyView, which is a project that will build 40 condominiums in a former bank/office building right across from the Capitol Theatre.

Changes in the District mean more organizers are holding events in the downtown area. Additional events bring more business to the District merchants and restaurateurs. France states the most popular events are "the 6th Annual Achieva Box Car Rally- a fun event that brought many families to the district to race for trophies and raise funds for Pinellas County Classrooms- and the Super Boat Parade, the Jazz Holiday Festival (now in its 36th year) and our holiday event called Miracle on Cleveland Street."

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