ST. PETERSBURG — The new $92 million Pier District in St. Pete will offer visitors days filled with sun and fun — and then there’s the night magic.
“This adds to what is iconic about the city in a huge and spectacular way,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said during a media tour of the district on Sunday evening.
The new Pier and the 26-acre Pier District open Monday to the public. To ensure social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, those who want to visit will have to make reservations during opening week.
Kriseman, who directed the development of the Pier, said he hopes the Pier District will be the city’s Central Park. He said previous piers have always been popular with tourists, but he hopes locals will see it as a place to hang out.
Evening visitors can enjoy sweeping views of Tampa Bay along the Pier and at the beach along with two new destination restaurants, plenty of spots to unwind and public art that comes alive at night.
John Curran, project director, said the Pier is a totally different experience at night. He said his team had a philosophy of loving lights, but tried to hide the fixtures.
“It produces a beautiful glow everywhere,” Curran said.
But the use of light is most obvious beneath Janet Echelman’s sculpture Bending Arc, where 180 miles of twine sway in the breeze as projected light dances off it. The lawn beneath it features landscaped ridges perfect for laying down and gazing up. From here, the sculpture looks like floating fish nets trying to catch the clouds.
“I would have hung out here all the time in high school,” one Sunday night visitor remarked from under the sculpture.
From there, visitors can stroll over to Spa Beach, a spot to enjoy not only the view of the bay, but the architecture of the main building of the Pier. With its floor-to-ceiling windows and sharp lines, it looks more like a cartoon supervillain’s hideout than a place to grab a bite or sit on the rooftop with a drink.
Curran called it a beacon of light at the end of the Pier.
The length of the Pier leading up to the building seems offers a wide area for fishing or strolling. A few “coastal thickets” provide short detours through what is meant to be an “artistic interpretation” of the local environment. Native flora along the way include Saw Palmetto, Buttonwood and Spartina marsh grasses.
From main building, visitors can get a drink at Pier Teaki, the rooftop bar, and snap a picture in the mouth of a giant tiki mask. A floor below at restaurant Teak, rowboats hang from the ceiling and a large communal table dominates the room.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
The Pier offers a view of the sun disappearing behind the St. Petersburg skyline.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of artist Janet Echelman.