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Fort Harrison purchasers to buy Clearwater bank building

Title: Fort Harrison purchasers to buy Clearwater bank building
Date: Wednesday, 5 November 1975
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Chuck Albury
Main source: news.google.com

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Southern Land Development and Leasing Corp., which is buying the Fort Harrison Hotel for use as a vacation and conference center for religious groups, signed an agreement Tuesday to buy the old Bank of Clearwater building on Cleveland Street and bank-owned office space with about 200 feet of frontage on N Ft. Harrison Avenue.

ALTHOUGH individuals from Southern Land wouldn't comment officially on the purchase, they indicated that the space will be used for offices in connection with the hotel venture.

A staff of 50 to 100 persons could occupy the old hank building, vacant since the Bank of Clearwater moved into a new 11-story office structure one block to the east.

The old bank property is a key part of a proposed downtown site for the new Clearwater civic center, which the Clearwater Downtown Development Board has been supporting.

Assistant City Manager Tony Shoemaker said the sale of the old bank building certainly would have an impact on the civic center site selection. Shoemaker has headed up the staff committee considering possible locations for the center.

Jim Palmer, executive secretary for the Clearwater Downtown Development Board, said the four-block area, including the old bank building, "is still our No. 1 site."

But Palmer said the downtown board is primarily interested in having the center built somewhere downtown and there are other possibilities, either in other areas or by using part of the first choice and going across either Cleveland Street or Drew Street to get additional property for the center facilities or the necessary parking structure.

The property that Southern Land has offered to buy doesn't include the old bank drive-in facility or the Bank of Clearwater parking lots on the east side of Watterson Avenue.

"We've entered into a contract to sell the old Bank of Clearwater building," President Hugh Parker Jr. said. "They've made us an offer which is acceptable. The sale is to close on Nov. 14."

Since the building is vacant, Southern Land could move in almost immediately.

Meanwhile, Southern Land plans to close its purchase of the Fort Harrison Hotel, for a price now estimated at somewhat under $3-million, on Dec. 1.

MRS. LOY YOUNG, who handles public relations for the firm, says a capacity group of visitors is expected to check in that day at the 272-room facility.