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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg's new welcome tower could meet Tropical Storm Isaac



St. Petersburg’s newest beacon — touted to withstand 150 mph winds — could get its first test in the coming days.

And the heavy winds aren’t from the thousands of Republicans and journalists invading Tampa Bay for next week’s Republican National Convention.

The 75-foot Gateway Welcome Tower could meet Tropical Storm Isaac.

City officials officially unveiled the $600,000 tower Wednesday as the tropical storm grew bigger in the Caribbean and continued west on a path that could threaten Florida.

The tower resembles two other Mediterranean Revival towers that were installed in the late 1980s at the downtown entrances from Interstates 175 and 375.

A copper dome sits atop the new tower in the Gateway area on Interstate 275. Drivers should see the tower from more than a mile away.
City officials included the tower in the 2004 budget but could never find the cash -- that is until Bill Edwards stepped up this year.

The mortgage company executive and entertainment producer donated $600,000 for the tower. With 10,000 journalists arriving to report on the convention, Edwards wanted to draw worldwide attention to St. Petersburg.

“Now and in the future, we must project the image of a diverse, exciting, economically refreshed St. Petersburg, and the tower is an impressive beacon of that image,” Edwards said Wednesday.

The tower took less than five months to build and is anchored by 16-inch pilings which construction crews drove 35 feet into the ground.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 3:44pm]


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