For years, Clearwater has struggled to pull people to downtown. Revival tactics such as hosting festivals and hiring consultants haven't had a lasting impact, so the city has rolled out its most aggressive attempt yet to lure new businesses.

  • Incentive program launched to lure new businesses
  • The goal is to revitalize downtown Clearwater
  • City is looking for 5 to 7 restaurants

Last week, Clearwater's Community Redevelopment Agency announced an Anchor Tenant Incentive Program. It's offering up to $250,000 to anchor businesses relocating to downtown Clearwater. The money can cover rent, start-up costs, renovations, and equipment.

"We're looking for some local, homegrown Tampa Bay businesses that have a track record of success and have built up a loyal customer base," said CRA director Seth Taylor.

The idea is that these new must-try restaurants and breweries will attract more people, which will open the door for other smaller shops and businesses.

Clear Sky on Clevelend is the latest addition to downtown Clearwater. Owner David Shouvlin invested thousands into renovating the space and getting it ready to open. He believes Clearwater is on the upswing and that more businesses will mean more customers.

"It's going to take awhile to recap all the money we've spent, fortunately we have other businesses in the area that give us the ability to do what we're doing downtown because it's not without risk," he said.

The city is looking for five to seven anchor restaurants for downtown. After that, they plan to move on from the incentive program.

For those restaurants that are chosen and receive the loan-to-grant funding, if they stay in businesses in downtown Clearwater for five years, the loan will not need to be repaid.