A retail fixture on Cleveland Street for nearly 50 years, the original F.W. Woolworth building enters its next phase of historic restoration.
F.W. Woolworth, the “Great Five Cent Store” where the motto was “Customers First,” came to Downtown Clearwater in 1928. Its building, constructed in 1910, moves into its next phase of historic restoration as one of the properties under the Cleveland Street Alliance.
At the time Woolworth opened its Clearwater store, it was the smallest city in the country chosen by the retailer to establish one of its 1,000 stores. The chain’s realty experts said they had confidence in the potential growth of the city. They were right—the store thrived downtown for more than half a century.
Restoration plans for the building include bringing back the original brick façade, which has been covered with layers of stucco and paint over the years. Marking the historical importance of this building, the store’s signature gold-lettered sign will be reconstructed and added across the storefront. The lobby will host an extensive historical display dedicated to Woolworth and featuring authentic packaging from products originally offered in the store.
A retail location will be added on the west side of the building and will recall the architectural style of the McCrory’s Department Store, which stood adjacent to the Woolworth site. The overall building will have spaces for boutique retail shops, and the west end will be suitable as a restaurant location. The building’s upper level will include a large, open space that can be subdivided as creative offices.
As Clearwater’s home to one of America’s founding “brick-and-mortar” retail chains, the building’s physical brick-and-mortar façade will be brought back to its original condition, while meeting current building code requirements.
The process will begin with removal of the pilasters, stucco and paint added in the 1980s, after Woolworth closed its Clearwater branch. Historical photographs will provide restoration experts with an accurate template for the renovation work.
Woolworth’s signature gold-lettered sign will be recreated, serving as a rich reminder of the retail giant that once stood on the 500 block of Historic Cleveland Street.
The 100-year-old building will be readied for another century of service with a complete roof replacement. Existing wood roof trusses will be removed and replaced, while a new eco-friendly, energy-efficient, cool-roof membrane will be installed. Additionally, over 100 photo-voltaic panels will be installed, generating over 85,000 kilowatt-hours per year.
The HVAC will be replaced with a modern split system providing 30 tons of cooling. Duct lines throughout the building will be double-wall steel sheet metal, insulated with eco-friendly materials containing no fiberglass irritants. Condenser units will be located on the roof, with central air handlers located on each floor for tenant comfort.
Interior walls will be insulated using eco-friendly, recycled denim material.
An entirely new electrical distribution system will be installed, replacing existing with modern conduit and wiring, new receptacles and switches. The building will have more than enough electrical capacity to provide for creative offices and workspaces.
All plumbing lines will be replaced with modern copper piping and new 30-gallon water heaters. Plumbing will serve requirements for tenants as well as restrooms located on the ground floor.
The 1928 opening of the F.W. Woolworth store was a vote of confidence in the city’s potential growth. So, the building’s lobby will pay tribute to the retail chain that helped put Downtown Clearwater on the map. The lobby displays will tell the story of this retail giant, while the overall décor will be styled after the 1930s.
The lobby accessories will be finished in brass, including the elevator and custom recreation of a 1930s-style lobby directory.
The outdated elevator will be replaced with a new KONE elevator rated for commercial use.
The public amenities will be accurate to the period, from the pedestal sinks to the checkerboard black and white tile floors.
The spacious lobby, with its majestic coffered ceilings and magnificent dark wood wainscot and architectural trim, will serve to welcome tenants and guests to a renaissance in Downtown Clearwater.