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St. Pete Pier opening is delayed, a casualty of the coronavirus

Mayor Rick Kriseman says the time is not right for what would have been a May 30 celebration.
A sunrise look as work continued on the new St. Pete Pier which was scheduled to open this spring.
A sunrise look as work continued on the new St. Pete Pier which was scheduled to open this spring. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Apr. 28, 2020
Updated Apr. 28, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman, who early in March jubilantly announced that St. Petersburg’s long-awaited Pier would open on May 30, told residents on Tuesday that they will have to wait a little longer for its debut.

Kriseman, who was giving an update on the city’s coronavirus response on its Facebook page, said there is too much uncertainty to hold such a gathering. The decision was made out of concern for public health and safety, he said, mentioning, as well, that Gov. Ron DeSantis had said he didn’t anticipate any mass gatherings in May.

“We waited a long time to get in there and enjoy this new beautiful pier,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer.”

The city’s “new waterfront playground,” a $92-million, 26-acre project, has been a long time coming. Once controversial, its completion dates shifted from 2018 to the fall of 2019, to “substantial completion” by December 2019. Then it was sometime this spring.

May 30 would have marked seven years since the Memorial Day closing of the old inverted pyramid pier, which drew 20,000 people to the waterfront to bid the iconic structure farewell.

“What better time to open it than its anniversary weekend,” Kriseman said several weeks before the coronavirus gripped the nation. He had planned to open the Pier with a State of the City address.

“Stay tuned for a new date,” he said Tuesday. “It will be worth the wait.”