ST. PETERSBURG — The $66 million Pier District budget is getting even tighter.
City Council members heard Thursday that they will have to decide what takes priority in the portion of the project designed to link the new pier to downtown.
Among the questions: How much parking should there be and is there too much restaurant space? And what about the so-called arts bridge with a possible price tag of up to $1.5 million?
Budget concerns surfaced as architects of the $20 million pier approach — encompassing an area from the Vinoy Renaissance resort to Pioneer Park and Beach Drive to Spa Beach — presented three different scenarios during Thursday's workshop.
A complete package of features would cost $16 million, $5 million more than the estimated $11 million construction budget. That option would include turning Bayshore Drive into a convertible street for pedestrians and cyclists, with a wider sidewalk and parking moved away from the water. There would also be the arts bridge and about 550 parking spaces. Another option, without the convertible street, would run $12.5 million, while the third, which would not include the arts bridge, would cost about $11.5 million.
"My instinct would be to eliminate the two restaurants in the middle and provide more fun space," council member Karl Nurse said.
About $4.7 million of the $20 million budget would be allocated to build shells for the proposed restaurants, one overlooking the water in the Pelican Parking Lot, and another near the Museum of History. Several concession areas also are being proposed, and the pier itself also would have a large restaurant.
"It feels like too much," City Council Chair Amy Foster said, adding that she thinks building the shell for just one restaurant on the approach would be enough.
The architects, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture of New York and St. Petersburg's Wannemacher Jensen, are using the city's new Downtown Waterfront Master Plan as their guide for the pier approach project. Foster emphasized, however, that the plan approved by the council last year was simply "a playbook," not something that had to be followed religiously.
Council member Ed Montanari, vice chairman of the Pier Advisory Task Force that issued a seminal report in 2010 about what should be done about the pier, expressed concern for the success of the structure that would rise at the end of the approach into Tampa Bay.
The plan for the pier approach is good overall, but "a bit intense," he said, and added that he supports colleague Charlie Gerdes' idea of building a parking garage in the Pelican Parking Lot to free up more green space.
The architects will return to the City Council with updated plans in July.
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.