07/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Demolition of the Pier is on track to begin in less than a month, ending an embarrassing delay caused by the absence of a needed permit.
The news was delivered by Public Works Administrator Mike Connors, who two weeks earlier had said all permits were in place to begin tearing down the shuttered inverted pyramid.
But the work was halted when the city discovered that demolition could not begin without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers....
07/23/15 Human Interest
Minson Rubin recalls signs that forbade and corralled "coloreds."
Gwen Reese remembers asking her mother with the persistence of a 6-year-old why they couldn't go into a Central Avenue movie theater where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was showing.
"Because negroes can't go to that theater," her mother answered.
"But why?" the young Gwen asked, again and again....
07/14/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A construction fence rose at the Pier on Monday, signaling that demolition is imminent, starting with the iconic and controversial inverted pyramid.
But that work could be weeks, even months away because of what appears to be a misunderstanding about a required federal permit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says nothing — including planned removal this month of metals and fixtures from the inverted pyramid — can occur without the agency's permission....
07/09/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The pier, a project that divided families and neighbors and inspired a voter referendum that delayed the project at least two years, is officially under way.
The City Council on Thursday approved $5.2 million for the project, including contracts with the designers of Pier Park, its construction manager and the firm that will tear down the inverted pyramid that has stood for more than 40 years....
07/09/15 Economic Development
ST. PETERSBURG — The fledgling Skyway Marina District is beginning to generate the type of buzz founders and residents in the city's southernmost tip have craved.
This week, Brixmor Property Group, which owns and manages the Bay Pointe Plaza shopping center, announced it will demolish and rebuild the Publix that anchors the site. This news comes on the heels of confirmation that electronics manufacturer Jabil is moving about 365 of its tech workers to the landmark Ceridian high-rise building. Additionally, the owners of Maximo Marina, which draws boaters from as far away as Canada, have taken the property off the market and are continuing millions of dollars in renovations....
07/09/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Pier Park, the city's newest Pier is off and running.
City Council members approved almost $5 million in contracts for the project Thursday, setting in motion demolition of the closed inverted pyramid and the building of a new one that will feature floating docks, environmental classrooms, a four-level structure and concert space for 4,000.
Except for Council Member Wengay Newton, who has always opposed tearing down the inverted pyramid, there was enthusiastic approval for going ahead with the project....
07/06/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — City Council members are considering about $5 million in contracts this week for the first phase of Pier Park, St. Petersburg's new waterfront landmark.
Council members could vote Thursday on an architectural and engineering services agreement with the designers of the new pier. They'll consider a second agreement with the project's construction manager and a third to demolish the shuttered 1973 inverted pyramid that has symbolized the city's pier tradition for more than 40 years....
07/02/15 Human Interest
If you've missed David McKalip's Founders Corner monuments with their display of the Ten Commandments and other sayings that stood at Fourth Street and 62nd Avenue N, never fear.
McKalip, a neurosurgeon and well-known political and religious conservative, will bring them to you. Having sold the property on which the four 6-foot-tall granite and limestone structures stood for a little more than three years, McKalip is now is carting them around on a 16-foot trailer....
ST. PETERSBURG — The first interfaith service ever for the St. Pete Pride celebration is planned for Saturday.
But with one day to go, organizers still don't know how many worshipers to expect when the doors open at Trinity Lutheran Church. So far, there's no indication any Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha'i or other non-Christian groups will participate in a religious service affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities....
06/25/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Wondering what's up with all the barricades, orange tape and dirt at South Straub Park in recent days? The popular 7.3-acre waterfront park is getting a facelift in the form of approximately 88,000 square feet of sod, parks and recreation director Michael Jefferis said.
"We do this all the time," he said, adding that parks throughout the city are on a cycle of sod replacement as areas become worn....
06/18/15 Local Government
Once a spot for croquet and presidential speeches, Williams Park has lost its luster.
It's a regular hangout for Charlie White, 55, who sat on a park bench one morning, a "buck-and-a-quarter" Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand and a Remington cigar in the other. When it rains, he takes cover under the steps of the park's award-winning band shell.
Elaine Savastano, 56, is also homeless. She sat alone, wearing a winter coat on a humid day. She said she's been living in the park for two weeks....
06/18/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — As the City Council prepares to vote on a contract to build the new pier, Mayor Rick Kriseman is proposing $20 million to link the waterfront landmark to a thriving downtown.
A major part of the effort to tie Pier Park to the uplands would be the creation of pedestrian walkways along Second Avenue NE, the gateway to the attraction.
"That entire street will be reworked to make it more pedestrian friendly, making the entrance to the pier an inviting and welcoming experience," said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination....
ST. PETERSBURG — Amid concerns about the Islamic State and its recruitment of young people in the United States, Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil, a leader in St. Petersburg's Muslim community and interfaith circles, acknowledges the challenges of being a Muslim in America.
Aquil, 68, is African-American, as well. The St. Petersburg native, who grew up attending the historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 912 Third Ave. N, and whose wife is Christian, converted to Islam in 1971....
06/11/15 Human Interest
Talk to professional storyteller and retired social studies teacher Jim Gregory and he'll tell you about his experiences as a young white man who accidentally got involved in the civil rights movement.
Gregory, 75, who once taught in Tampa and now lives in Miami, will recall tooling around the South in a converted school bus on a mission to take used school books to African-American children who had few of their own. ...
In control rooms loaded with gadgets, techies switch between camera angles showing a preacher sporting jeans and an untucked shirt with the sleeves rolled up. • A praise and worship band had set the tone. • Welcome to BridgePoint Church — where they like it evangelical, conservative and hip.
Four Sunday services can draw as many as 2,500 worshipers, the vast majority of whom are young. The church hopes to expand across Pinellas County, dotting the area with 10 satellite centers over the next decade that will tap into live feeds of the pastor's message from the main campus. St. Petersburg's hip downtown could be the first....