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St. Petersburg to ask community for Pier advice

Corroded pipe fixtures were removed from under the Pier on Monday. The potable water pipes are being replaced.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Corroded pipe fixtures were removed from under the Pier on Monday. The potable water pipes are being replaced.

All that's happened since St. Petersburg city leaders derailed a plan to rebuild the Pier is the seriously corroded, 82-year-old superstructure holding up the city's iconic downtown waterfront landmark deteriorated another two years.

That should change now that City Council has decided to spend $40,000 to stage community visioning sessions this fall, studying ways to spend $50-million earmarked from downtown property taxes to overhaul the facility in 2011.

City officials have been perplexed for decades about what to do as the quarter-mile, vintage 1926 pier approach comes to the end of its life span. Rebuilding it alone eats up $35-million. The five-story inverted pyramid remains solid, but it's dated and inefficient to fill with much more than tourist retailers. Despite the city's best efforts, there appears no end to an operating subsidy headed this year for $1.4-million.

"Everything will be on the table: tearing the Pier down completely, rehabbing what's there or building a whole new facility," said Beth Herendeen, city marketing director.

How long before some wag suggests a baseball stad — nah. Who would have the nerve?

'For here or to go?' coming to Checkers

In what once would have been heresy, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, the Tampa Bay-bred pioneer of the prefab, double drive-through, has designed its first store equipped with an indoor dining room.

The new prototype fits in shopping centers. Except for some screened-in porches in the Snow Belt, the 800 pre-fab Checkers/Rally's restaurants offer walk-up customers only outdoor picnic tables. "We're not abandoning the double drive-through, but the world has changed," said Michael Arrowsmith, senior vice president of development. "Our top volume outlet today is a food court with seating in the Atlanta airport, so we'll do more of those. A shopping center store gives us more options and costs less."

Buy-one-get-one-free taking over at grocers

Buy-one-get-one-free deals, called BOGOs in the grocery trade, spread like a grass fire at Publix and Winn-Dixie. They all but retired two-for-one specials.

The difference? Two-for-one lets you buy only one to get half price. Buy-one-get-one-free is half-price only if you buy two.

Why switch? Mass-merchant profit is driven by inventory turnover. BOGOs move more product faster than two-for-one.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

St. Petersburg to ask community for Pier advice 07/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 1:53pm]
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