Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Foster changes his mind, abandoning support for a land-based Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — If city officials showed again on Friday that there's no consensus on how to rebuild the Pier — the city's famed and fading tourist mecca — they did decide on at least one thing.

They won't build it on land.

Recently, Mayor Bill Foster had promoted doing just that. It was the cheapest of the options now being considered, costing about $42 million. The most expensive option, at $87 million, would keep it where it is — 3,300 feet from shore.

"The elephant in the room is that we can't afford (to keep it where it is)," said Foster. "The only one we could build is (the one on land). Or nothing at all."

But council members Jeff Danner, Jim Kennedy and council Chairwoman Leslie Curran said it was a waste of money to have a landlocked building that would compete with restaurants along Beach Drive.

"That's not a pier," Danner said. "That's a mistake to build more on the waterfront. Talk about blocking the view."

By the end of the meeting, Foster said he changed his mind. He still doesn't support an option of keeping it where it is, but would support a new Pier off shore with a smaller approach. He said what convinced him was comments by Marilyn Olsen, who sat on a 20-member task force that since March has pondered ways to refashion the Pier.

"If all you want is another waterfront restaurant, it's a waste of money," Olsen said. Instead, she said the city should build a new pier at least 1,000 feet from shore and hire an architect who can design a building that's reminiscent of, not identical to, the existing inverted pyramid.

Yet Foster also said he's leaving it up to the council to decide. The city has $50 million to spend on the project, but he said about $10 million more could be made available. It would be up to council members to cut the projects that have that funding now. They include a parking garage budgeted for $14 million and $5 million set aside for pedestrian and streetscape improvements. Foster said he wouldn't support a price tag of more than $60 million.

Although the land version of the Pier has been eliminated, there's still no consensus on what one on water will look like six years from now if it's ever built. A survey of task force members showed that six wanted to keep it as it is and 10 wanted another option.

"The biggest decision facing City Council is what to do with the inverted pyramid," said Ed Montanari, the vice chairman of the task force. "Once you decide that, it should be clear as where to go."

Kennedy spoke extensively about some ideas he had. He said it doesn't even have to be a building, but large sculptures of the letters "S" and "P" that would symbolically represent St. Petersburg, much in the way the Gateway Arch represents St. Louis. He also said he'd be open to getting rid of the approach to the Pier, or having two approaches to the Pier with a fisherman's market in between them.

"The Pier is not there to be economically sufficient," he said. "It's supposed to be an economic engine. It will bring people to our city that will keep it vibrant."

Concerns linger that there isn't enough money to build something that will either last or that will be memorable and worth it.

"We're doing a huge disservice by limiting ourselves to $50 million," Curran said. "We don't need to be so shortsighted. We have to look at the future."

Curran asked for another workshop. Consultants may attend that meeting to talk more in detail about concepts, said the city's director of downtown enterprise facilities, Chris Ballestra. He said the meeting will probably be held in the next month.

"Will they find consensus?" Ballestra said. "It's to be determined."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or

Foster changes his mind, abandoning support for a land-based Pier 07/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 10:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.