1. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg's waterfront destination will have a name. Call it the St. Pete Pier.

[ ASD/SKY] A rendering of the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center at the new St. Pete Pier
Published Dec. 26, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — As the Pier project heads into the home stretch, city officials are making it official how the downtown waterfront destination — expected to open in late 2019 — should be known.

Thursday the City Council will vote on an ordinance to name the 26-acre district the St. Pete Pier. Earlier this year, the city submitted an application to make "St. Pete Pier'' a registered trademark.

Thursday's ordinance will also address naming rights at the marine education center being built halfway up the overwater section of the $76 million project. Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit with a mission to protect and restore the Tampa Bay estuary, has a lease with the city to operate the center and an agreement to be able to name the facility.

Founder and president Peter Clark said the words "Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center presented by Milkey Family Foundation," will appear on the building's exterior.

"The Milkey family is very generous in their support of the community and in particular the mission of Tampa Bay Watch," Clark said, declining to immediately reveal how much the St. Petersburg-based foundation is giving to his organization.

"We are still in the middle of our capital campaign for the Discovery Center and we look forward to other matching support from individuals and corporations in our area," he said.

The new ordinance will require the City Council's approval for any name given to the Tampa Bay Watch center.

Kevin Milkey, executive vice president of ASI, a St. Petersburg-based insurance company, said he and his wife, Jeanne, "feel strongly about the environment."

"It's just the future. ... Where we live in the Tampa Bay area is a precious resource. It's one piece in doing what we can to help the global environment," Milkey said.

He added that the main reason for the foundation's donation to Tampa Bay Watch, which is headquartered in Tierra Verde, is "the whole education piece" of its new project at the Pier.

"I love the fact that they do a lot of education, even at their current location," he said.

The Milkeys, who support other local organizations, recently committed almost $2 million to the Daystar Life Center, a downtown social services agency that helps the poor and homeless, for a new, larger facility that's being built in the city's Midtown area.

While St. Petersburg is building the shell of the Discovery Center, Tampa Bay Watch will be responsible for the interior improvements. The city is requiring the conservation group to raise $860,000 by January for the interior construction.

Clark said his organization believes it will able to fulfill the financial requirement by the January deadline.

"But there's still lots of work to be done to ensure the construction dollars are available," he said. "There's still a need to build and construct the exhibits and the educational platform."

Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination, said St. Petersburg is "very comfortable" that Tampa Bay Watch will meet the January deadline. He said the organization has submitted two commitment letters totaling a half-million dollars and that with the Milkey donation, the group will exceed what the city requires.

Clark has said that Tampa Bay Watch will need about $2.2 million for exhibit development, construction and programing and to set up classrooms and run the center for its first year. The sum includes a classroom boat to take children out on the water and to be used for eco–tourism.

Ballestra said Tampa Bay Watch will likely not be required to get permission to name sponsored elements on the inside of the Discovery Center, such as touch tanks and exhibits.

St. Petersburg is also offering naming rights for other areas of the Pier. In April, the council approved a contract with Sports & Properties of Raleigh, N.C., to evaluate the Pier District's potential for generating revenue from naming rights.

"There are a number of areas throughout the Pier, the playground, the splash pad, the event lawn, any of those, we would run through City Council for approval," Ballestra said. " We are absolutely proceeding with naming rights opportunities throughout the Pier."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.


  1. Less than a month after being fired, former St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love wants the agency to give him a job running its development nonprofit at the same $157,000 salary. That offer, part of ongoing negotiations over his severance, was rejected by the agency's board.
    Tony Love’s attorney tells the agency that fired him he wants full salary and benefits through 2020. The board rejects his offer.
  2. John Jonchuck returned to a Pinellas County courtroom last month to attend a hearing about whether he was entitled to a new trial. A judge on Tuesday ruled that he is not. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Jonchuck was convicted of first-degree murder in April. He dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck, off a bridge in 2015.
  3. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The 15-year-old student was arrested Monday after shouting the threat out loud, according to St. Petersburg police.
  5. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, a Republican, has asked for a City Council vote on a resolution asking congress for gun control measures. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the Republican’s symbolic resolution will almost certainly fail.
  6. Yesterday• Pinellas
    Ele Fox, Kiwanis Club of Dunedin member, and Joe Mackin, president of the Dunedin Cares Food Pantry are pictured in front of the case of meals they received to be distributed to families in need in the Dunedin area. Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Bessette. Stephanie Bessette
    Local Kiwanis clubs supply food in service project
  7. Yesterday• Pinellas
    Cleo. Photo courtesy of Friends of Stray Animal Shelter. BY MONIQUE WELCH  |  Friends of Stray Animal Shelter
    Meet Cleo.
  8. Yesterday• Pinellas
    On Aug. 3, members of local nonprofit, The Brian Bill Foundation, participated in the 31Miles for 31Heroes walk in Washington to honor fallen soldiers. Brian Bill Foundation
    Elks attend D-Day anniversary
  9. Florida Department of Transportation workers inspect damage to the Interstate 175 overpass at Sixth Street S caused by a roll-off dumpster truck that left its hydraulic arm upright, according to St. Petersburg police. The incident sent concrete falling onto Sixth Street S below. Courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department
    Sixth Street S from Fourth Avenue S to Fifth Avenue S will be closed for up to three weeks for repairs, state officials say.
  10. The inside of the former American Baptist Church of Beatitudes, located at 801 28th Ave N, is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. The church is being converted into a three-bedroom home.  ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Three property owners seek approval to landmark their properties: a closed school, a former church and a house built by noted St. Petersburg architect William B. Harvard