Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Consultant: St. Pete Pier District could draw millions

By Waveney Ann moore

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — An economic analysis of the future Pier District promises a rosy return on the project's $66 million price tag.

The study by Lambert Advisory of Miami estimates that the district — which is not yet under construction and is expected to open at the end of 2018 — will have a potential annual economic impact on St. Petersburg of $80 million, create hundreds of jobs, bring in close to two million visitors a year and boost demand for hotels and restaurants.

Lambert expects spending by the anticipated crowds of local and out-of-town visitors to have a broad impact beyond the 26-acre Pier District and the surrounding downtown area. Visitors are expected to spend about $30 million for food and beverages, $10 million for retail and services and $15 million for hotels.

In a prepared statement following the report's release, Mayor Rick Kriesman said he was "thrilled" that the district "will not only be a world-class destination for residents and for visitors from around the world, but that it will also have such a strong economic impact."

City Council member Karl Nurse's response was somewhat muted.

"Candidly, I don't put a lot of credence on these reports. The impact of building something is pretty straightforward," he said, referring to the $17.5 million in wages expected from the 365 full-time jobs that would be created during the district's construction.

"When you add entertainment activities to an area, the only net gain is bringing money from out of the area into the area," Nurse said.

"So economically, if it causes visitors to come or stay longer, then there's an economic gain. Otherwise, it's just additional choices for people who live in the area. I have never seen an economic impact study that I haven't thought was inflated."

Meanwhile, the waiting continues for a key permit to get the project started. Pinellas County issued its permit in late April, but one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still pending.

"We expect to have that shortly," said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination. "They committed to get that to us this month."

When that happens, workers will begin driving piles into Tampa Bay for the over-the-water component of the project.

In the meantime, on June 1, the City Council will be asked to appropriate $17.6 million, the guaranteed maximum price from Skanska USA Building — the project's construction manager — for marine structural work to construct the pier platform. The money will be a portion of the original $34 million estimated for construction costs before what was going to be simply a new pier, was expanded into the Pier District, with its current budget of $66 million.

Other decisions await in coming weeks. On June 7, the pier public art committee will consider whether to commission a sculpture from internationally renowned artist Janet Echelman.

In April, the council approved a $75,000, two-phase agreement with the artist, who was born in Tampa and has her studio in Massachusetts. At their upcoming meeting, the pier art committee will review phase one, which will include a feasibility study, at least two concept designs and cost estimates. Phase two — along with the second half of the $75,000 payment — would only proceed if the city decides to go forward with the full project, which could cost many thousands of dollars more.

Also, Pinellas County Commissioners still have to decide whether to allow St. Petersburg to allocate up to an additional $10 million to increase amenities at the Pier District, along with $4 million for transportation and parking throughout downtown. The money would come from tax increment financing, or TIF, funds once meant for a downtown transit hub that's no longer planned.

Kriseman had originally wanted all of the money to be used for Pier District "enhancements." The proposed extras include a $1.3 million signature art element — though mayoral spokesman Ben Kirby said two donors have pledged "significant support for an Echelman piece" — $2 million for a floating platform and $1 million for playground equipment. City Council members pushed back at spending all of the money on the new district and eventually voted to spend a portion on transportation and parking, as well.

As yet, Ballestra said the city's request has not been scheduled to be heard by the County Commission.

"We're working with the county to schedule a time," he said. "We look forward to getting that on their agenda shortly."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes

Comments
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

RIVERVIEWJaime Rodriguez, 78, popped the question Friday morning but skipped the "getting down on one knee" part."If I get on my knee, you’d have to help me," he told the emcee a moment before asking Luz Rivera to marry him.Rivera, 69, smiled and sai...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Romano: You better hope I’m wrong about flood insurance

Romano: You better hope I’m wrong about flood insurance

Chances are, I’ll go down as the Boy Who Cried Flood.You might have noticed, I’ve been shouting about the imminent calamity of flood waters for quite a few years now. If I wasn’t trying to frighten you into buying flood insurance, I was worrying you ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Delta bans pit bulls as service dogs, sparks backlash

Delta bans pit bulls as service dogs, sparks backlash

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines says it’s no longer allowing passengers to fly with "pit bull type" dogs as service or support animals, a policy that’s being met with criticism by groups that train service dogs and the people who use them.The Atlanta-based...
Updated: 4 hours ago