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Neighbors still worried after plaster falls from top of downtown Clearwater high-rise

Strong winds pulled the material off the façade of the Bank of America building on Sunday.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — In downtown Clearwater, there was still no shortage of yellow tape along the city’s Cleveland Street on Monday.

Early Sunday morning, stucco and concrete showered down on the roadway and sidewalk when strong winds pulled the material off the façade of the Bank of America building.

“I wouldn’t notice it when I’m walking by, but now that I’m looking at it it’s a big problem,” said Michael DiSisto, staring up at the building.

“Somebody could’ve died from that,” said Deborah Smith, who lives nearby.

The stucco apparently came loose during the height of the storm as it blew through. Emergency workers quickly cordoned off the area, including part of station square Park.

Credit: Angela Clooney

Neighbors say the bank that used to occupy the bottom floor of the building moved out not long after the pandemic started. They’re not sure who’s been maintaining the building since then.

“That’s a big danger,” said neighbor Wes White. “I mean, you’ve got plaster falling off, you know, certain heights, can kill people.”

Local businesses are also worried. Not just because of the falling concrete, but also having to shut down the main road that leads to their stores.

“It’s crazy, it’s dangerous for all the residents who live down here. And people walking around,” said Sarah Bellomy, who operates Downtown Pizza.

“I’m concerned for everybody. I mean, I walk down that street every day,” said Bellomy. “I walk walking deliveries doubt it, and it’s scary, you don’t know if you’re walking by the building and you don’t know if you’re going to get hit by stucco or not.”

That concern might be even more understandable, considering this isn’t the first time in recent history that Clearwater has seen this sort of thing happen.

In April 2020, stucco came flying off the Oaks of Clearwater Senior Living facility on Chestnut Street.

Fortunately, no one was struck by the falling debris in that case either.

Engineers have checked to make sure the bank building is sound, and in a statement, Clearwater Spokesman Rob Shaw said, “City inspectors have determined there are no structural integrity issues with the building; the damage is only to the stucco on the exterior portion.”

“And they’ll probably say it’s been inspected,” said neighbor Rob Casseno, “But you know, these cases, it still happens. So, they have to do a better job.”

“Whatever they’ve got to do. Reinforce it. Fix it,” said White. “Whatever they’ve got to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”