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Credit: Stantec

The Clearwater City Council finally voted to break ground on a grand $84 million project to redevelop the downtown waterfront into a recreation and entertainment space, St. Pete Catalyst reports.

  • Coachman Park will be remade into a 24-acre urban waterfront park that includes a bandshell and stage with covered seating for 4,000, playgrounds, shading and solar panels.

The big picture: City leaders hope the project boosts economic activity in downtown Clearwater.

Credit: Stantec
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Go deeper

Jul 21, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

EMC wants taxes waived for Des Moines park development

The downtown site where EMC plans to build a park remains undeveloped and blocked from public access. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

EMC Insurance is asking Des Moines to waive property taxes on the downtown site where the company wants to build a park instead of expanding its headquarters, city officials confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: It's a potential loss in tax base on a spot considered to be a prime location for downtown redevelopment.

  • Yes, but: Parks are community assets that help improve people's health, reduce crime and strengthen local economies, according to the City Parks Alliance.

Driving the news: EMC announced on Friday that it's putting its $24 million expansion on an indefinite hold, and that the company instead wants to turn the property into a neighborhood park.

  • The decision was made after the company determined no near-term needs for additional office space, partly due to work-from-home flexibilities following the pandemic.

Flashback: The property, 701 Walnut St., is the site of the former Younkers department store that was destroyed by a fire in 2014.

  • The western half was saved and converted into the Wilkins Building apartments. (The iconic tea room is now an events venue.)
  • Multiple plans to redevelop the Younkers site fizzled before its downtown neighbor EMC purchased the property in 2018 for a headquarters expansion.

Details: The site, which is less than 0.4 acres, is assessed for $1.2 million by the Polk County Assessor.

  • EMC purchased it for $1.9 million, and taxes are currently $45,500 a year.
  • The insurer is now asking for those taxes to be waived in exchange for EMC paying for the park's development, DSM Parks director Ben Page confirmed this week.

Of note: The cost and full scope of plans for the park are unknown at this time, but EMC envisions sports courts, seating, raised flower beds and public art.

  • The land would be used as a park for at least 10 years through an agreement with DSM, EMC said.
  • Ongoing maintenance would mostly be the city's responsibility.

What they're saying: Mayor Frank Cownie commended EMC for the plan in a statement Friday, saying the park "will fill a much-needed void in the community."

  • EMC didn't directly answer if it would proceed without a tax break. "Based on initial discussions with the city, we anticipate that the waiver will be approved," spokesperson Sarah Buckley told us.

What's next: City staff will negotiate the terms of the park agreement and present them to the City Council for approval this fall.

  • EMC projected a late summer 2022 opening if approved.

Manhattan, Westchester prosecutors request evidence from Cuomo investigation

Gov. Cuomo during a press conference in New York City on Aug. 2. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The district attorneys for Manhattan and Westchester County on Wednesday requested evidence related to New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The district attorneys are investigating if alleged conduct highlighted in an independent report published by James' office that occurred in their jurisdictions was criminal in nature.

Scoop: Buzzy media startup Puck launches in beta

Puck.news

Puck, a splashy new digital media company, is coming out of stealth mode, Axios has learned. The company debuted its landing page, puck.news, on Wednesday, and will officially launch its website in September.

Why it matters: The company has been quietly building a roster of top talent, but hadn't confirmed its branding or exact business plans up until now.

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