Make us your home page

Task force sifts through plans to demolish, replace St. Petersburg Pier

Plans to demolish the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg and replace the waterfront landmark with a new structure much closer to the shore inched closer to reality on Tuesday.

The City Council's Pier Advisory Task Force narrowed a list of 23 possible configurations to a half-dozen that better integrate the Pier into the city's waterfront park network.

The plan taking shape envisions most of the restaurant, tourist and retail facilities in the current five-story inverted pyramid redeployed to about 21 acres that are now waterfront parking lots on the mainland between the Municipal Marina and the Vinoy Basin.

"It's clear there's agreement the linchpin of all this is to eliminate the long walk out in the bay to the Pier," said former Mayor Randy Wedding who heads the task force. "I'm not sure the plans we saw today totally address that, but that clearly is the direction we're going. The Pier does need to come in closer to the mainland."

The city has $50 million that comes available in 2012 to rebuild the corroded 83-year-old pier that leads to the 37-year-old iconic pyramid building that city officials say is functionally obsolete.

While a rebuild of what's there now, 1,100 feet out in the bay, remains an option, task force members figure replacing it with a much shorter and narrower pier will free up more of the $50 million to build commercial and tourist activities in what are now parking lots.

That would shorten the walk from Beach Drive into a more manageable 600 feet. Parking garages would be built above the commercial space.

Task force members agreed that preserving the view of the mainland from the Pier was an important feature of the current structure worth keeping.

One of the cheapest alternatives was building a simple fishing pier for $11 million.

Other possibilities included a waterfront amphitheater, amusement park activities including a Ferris wheel and full-scale water park.

But a solid consensus of committee members were intrigued by plans to develop the Vinoy Basin into a full-blown marina with pedestrian swing bridges linking an around-the-harbor walk to Vinoy Park and Straub Park.

Cost will dictate how much of the pipe dreams survive the next round. Some carried a price tag of more than $90 million, and one combination that scored the most interest from task force members is estimated to cost $78 million.

Some task force members questioned adding too much retail space to a downtown area that is struggling with high vacancy rates and plummeting rents.

Aside from the structural integrity of the aging Pier itself, the decision making is being driven by hopes rent from commercial ventures and stores will help diminish the need for government subsidies, which have plagued the current Pier since 1973.

Miami consultants Bermello Ajamil & Partners will translate the broad-brush concepts unveiled Tuesday into a formal plan, develop cost estimates and do market analysis on more specific ideas that emerge.

The consultants studied public pier attractions from California to Atlantic City and the United Kingdom.

The only two that didn't require big public subsidies — city piers in Santa Monica and Santa Cruz — had income from amusement park rides and arcades.

The task force plans to narrow the selection to four plans at its next meeting on Jan. 15 and have public hearings as soon as Jan. 19. Once they settle on a plan, the decisionmaking shifts to the City Council.

"We are talking about tearing down a landmark that has been the keystone of our waterfront for almost a century," said Ed Montanari, a task force member. "Let's make it clear to the public that rebuilding it as is will remain an option when the final decision is made."

Mark Albright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8252.

To see designs

To read the report and

see more renderings, go to

Task force sifts through plans to demolish, replace St. Petersburg Pier 01/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 10:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]