The St. Petersburg Pier Project – My 2 Cents

*UPDATE 04/15/16* Today we received an email from the City of St. Petersburg containing a link to a virtual tour of the new pier design. Previously, as you can see below in my original blog post, I did not feel great about the new pier design. I felt even more worried after they announced that the design did not fit in the budget and they were planning on eliminating most of my favorite design elements to keep it in budget. Well, today I am filled with hope and happiness for our landmark. The email stated, “On Thursday, April 7th, the St. Petersburg City Council passed resolutions approving both the schematic design and funding for the new St. Petersburg Pier. The votes authorized city staff and the design team to proceed with the next phases for design and construction for the Pier.” The article states that initially, funds were allocated for the development of a new Pier, from Spa Beach to the end of the Pier Head. However, an additional $20 million to develop the Pier approach became available through TIF funds from the downtown tax district. This is very exciting news because now there is enough money to incorporate ALL of their designs. Although I am still a little skeptical of the overall design, and feel that it still lacks excitement, I feel a lot better about it now after this news, and taking the virtual tour. See for yourself here

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The Pier has always had a special place in my heart, since I grew up here. Every year until age 15 we would go to the Pier for ice cream on my birthday. I have countless memories playing put-put golf, attempting to fish (with no luck), exploring the aquarium, and even singing karaoke at Cha-Cha Coconuts, the rooftop restaurant. I was absolutely devastated when I heard the news of demolition. But after some thought, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the Pier… just a new chapter and growth for our cities biggest landmark.

As most people who live in St. Petersburg know… the process of creating a new Pier has been rocky, to say the least. We have seen concept after concept from the architects and eventually we all finally voted on one and most people seemed happy with the choice. Well now it seems like that was all for nothing because the Tampa Bay Times published an article yesterday depicting the NEW schematic design for the Pier… and people are outraged (including myself)! Take a look at this:

new pier concept vs old one

It went from a very unique and standout structure to some rich retirees house in Malibu. There is nothing about this new concept that makes it a destination spot for our city. I rather have the old Pier back than waste $46 million on this garbage. Don’t get me wrong; it is a beautiful design – for a house. This is supposed to be our world famous Pier! The inverted pyramid drew millions of tourists to our city every year. I doubt this new Pier will draw even thousands. Not only is the actual architecture lackluster, but the amenities are also blah. Here is the basic layout of the entire project (for a better look, open their Design Plan PDF):

pier layout

The only 2 things that stand out, in my opinion, are the education center and the event plaza. Everything else is so boring! One tiny restaurant? One bar? No ice cream shop? Oh, there is a wading pool for hot tourists to dip their feet in when they feel faintish – yay! But according to the Tampa Bay Times article – that fun feature may be put on hold. Go figure. It feels more like a walking path of “coastal thicket” to a giant pad of concrete steps for you to sit on and look out at the water. I can go to the beach and watch the sunset. The Pier is supposed to be something that puts St. Petersburg on the map! We need more WOW factor! We need more shops and restaurants and things to DO! I am looking forward to having an event plaza where we would possibly hold some great concerts – but other than that… I rather spend my tax dollars on a highspeed train from Tampa to Orlando.

4 thoughts on “The St. Petersburg Pier Project – My 2 Cents

  1. Uh, you are missing the whole point. The BIG restaurant was, and would be, another retail failure, especially with all of the great restaurants on Beach Dr. This new design is flexible, the spaces can be programmed for a whole host of events, including music concerts on the tilted lawn with the city skyline in the background. Saying it is a “a walking path of coastal thicket to a giant pad of concrete steps” is so incredibly disingenuous, as there are a multitude of activities to be done along the way – the whole point of the design is that it isn’t an A to B destination and back. You say you are outraged, but it doesn’t sound like you really knew why you “liked” it to begin with.

    • Just thought I would let you know that I updated the article a little bit. Now that they have more funding I have more hope. But we still have a long way to go… make sure you check out the virtual tour!
      -Kate

  2. Currently the committee is responsible only for fulfilling the public art requirement for the pier. Its job, though, could be expanded to include the pier approach, or another group set up to make recommendations for that section of the Pier District.

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