We need a pier that will stand the test of time. The current architectural renderings simply do not answer that need or honor this community's firm mandate — no bricks and mortar landslide!
A pier has been St. Petersburg's iconic symbol for nearly a century, regardless of which rendition. The Million Dollar Pier served a less complicated generation with an un-airconditioned dance hall on the top level and a streetcar terminal. There were no vendors of significance, save a hamburger/hot dog drive-in and a radio station, WSUN. It was beloved for its Mediterranean architecture, its ability to be circumnavigated by car, its drive-in, its easy access for strolling and fishing, and an observation deck revealing an elevated view of downtown and Tampa Bay.
The inverted pyramid became a dining and after-hours destination with the Columbia Restaurant and Cha Cha Coconuts in the late '80s. Even without proper maintenance, updating and (in the case of Cha Cha Coconuts) first-rate food, they both work.
So what do we envision for the next 50 years? The pier needs to embrace a "drive around," food, observation deck, limited parking, lights, perhaps a water feature and architecture consistent with our waterfront. Absolutely no brick and mortar landslide! The Dalí Museum was designed to complement the artist — the pier needs to complement the city.
Let's fix our inverted pyramid with the budget we have or start over with the design.
Robert Ulrich served as St. Petersburg's mayor from 1987-91.