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Piers through the years in St. Petersburg

The Railroad Pier, built in 1889, becomes a popular fishing spot.
Published May 25, 2013

Piers through the years

1889: The Railroad Pier is built by the Orange Belt Railway, and a bathing pavilion is added.

1896: The Brantley Pier began the tradition of Second Avenue NE piers.

1906: The Electric Pier, known for its hundreds of electric lights, extends 3,000 feet into Tampa Bay.

1913: The first Municipal Pier is constructed with a $40,000 bond issue approved by voters.

1921: Hurricane badly damages the Municipal Pier.

1925: Work begins on the Million Dollar Pier. Lew Brown of the Evening Independent raised $300,000 in pledges, and voters approved a $1 million bond issue.

1926: The Million Dollar Pier is dedicated on Thanksgiving. More than 10,000 people show up. The Mediterranean revival-style building is popular for years as a gathering place for card games, community sings and fishing tournaments.

1967: Million Dollar Pier is demolished.

1969: City Council approves new Pier project, projected to be completed in time for the 1970-71 tourist season. Projected to cost "under $2 million."

1970: The council comes up with an additional $800,000 to build the inverted pyramid. Eventual cost is $4 million.

Jan. 15, 1973: The Pier opens with Marriott as manager.

1974: Miniature golf course is installed on roof.

1977: City orders golf course off roof. Says it damaged the roof and caused it to leak.

1977: Golf course owner sues city, is later awarded $86,000 in damages. Jury found that roof damage was caused by city's removal of the course.

1977: Marriott Corp. doesn't renew its contract.

1977: Hardwicke Cos. of Miami gets the contract, plans a waterfront theme for restaurants, shops.

1978: The Pier approach deck suffers from saltwater erosion. The repair estimate is $500,000.

1985: Roof leak will cost $204,000 to fix.

1986: Pier closes for $12 million in renovations to include an expanded first floor with more shops, a boat dock and glass elevator.

Aug. 22, 1988: Pier reopens after being closed for 19 months. Now includes Alessi Bakery, shops on the first floor and the Pier Aquarium on the second. Cesar Gonzmart operates a banquet hall on the third floor, the Columbia restaurant on the fourth, and Cha Cha Coconuts on the fifth.

1989: A new miniature golf course is added, this time on the north side of the Pier head.

1989: The Pier's approach is eroding. Report cites structural decay, leaks.

1989: First year brings crowds, headaches, deficits and problems for manager Bay Plaza. The operating deficit rises to $1.2 million. Problems include malfunctioning elevators, wall and roof leaks, chronic air-conditioning and heating problems and trolley breakdowns.

1989: Public learns that the Pier will probably require annual subsidies indefinitely.

June 1989: Cassandra Ward, 16, is shot and killed near the Pier after she and friends are escorted from the facility by security guards. Police patrols are increased, and underage patrons are banned from the rooftop after 10 p.m.

1993: A new lease brings Nick's Italian Seafood to take over space formerly occupied by Alessi's.

1994: Pier parking is increased from $1 to $2.

2004: The approach and base, built in the 1920s, are deteriorating and must be replaced within 10 years at a cost of $25 million to $40 million.

2005: A $1 million pornographic movie is filmed aboard the HMS Bounty, the replica docked at the Pier. City officials had no clue.

2006: City officials announce plans for a $50 million restoration of the 1973 Pier.

2009: Taxpayer subsidy is up to $1.5 million. The foundation requires costly repairs.

2009: A 20-member Pier Advisory Task Force is created.

Aug. 2010: City Council votes to demolish the Pier.

Sept. 2011: Council members approve three finalists in international design competition.

Dec. 2011: Three designs are unveiled and models go on display. The Lens is a crowd favorite.

Jan. 2012: Winner is Michael Maltzan Architecture's the Lens.

Feb. 2012: Mayor announces that the Pier will close on May 31, 2013.

April 2012: Petition to save the 1973 Pier picks up steam. Group offers up its own design.

Aug. 2012: City Council declines to put the Pier issue on the ballot, ignoring more than 20,000 petitions from the group

Aug. 2012: Former council member Kathleen Ford sues the city on behalf of, seeking to save the Pier and demanding a referendum.

Sept. 2012: A new group, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, emerges to oppose the Lens.

Oct. 2012 : A pro-Lens group surfaces, headed by TV pitchman Anthony Sullivan.

Feb. 2013: Columbia announces plans to build two restaurants as part of the Lens project.

April 2013: A judge rules against Ford, spelling doom for the 40-year-old Pier. Ford plans appeal.

May 2013: Concerned Citizens turns in petitions to force a referendum to stop the Lens.

May 2013: With referendum looming, council moves ahead with the Lens.


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