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St. Pete Pier is named one of country's top urban design projects

A blue sky and palm trees surround a large and architecturally intricate building with a metal roof and large window panes sitting on the pier.
Daylina Miller
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WUSF Public Media
The five-story St. Pete Pierhead includes a rooftop bar, a restaurant, café, gift shop, bait shop and fishing deck. The Pier has far exceeded any attendance projections, with over 2.5 million visitors annually.

According to the Urban Land Institute, the pier "seamlessly blends into the city proper and, in addition to the delight of residents and visitors, has contributed greatly to the continued economic vitality of St. Petersburg."

St. Pete Pier has been selected as one of 10 winners of the Urban Land Institute's 2022 Americas Awards for Excellence, a top honor recognizing outstanding development projects in North and South America.

While other winning designs reside in cities like Hollywood, San Diego and Chicago, St. Pete Pier was the only design in the Southeastern U.S. to be awarded.

In 2005, it was determined that the Pier was no longer structurally sound, which launched a 15-year revitalization project, with a grand opening originally slated for 2018.

After the initial Lens design was struck down by a citizen-led referendum, a city-wide debate on where to move Janet Echelman's net sculpture and delays due to the pandemic, the new Pier District finally opened in 2020.

If you haven't had the chance to explore the pier's new features, check out this drone video tour:

St. Pete Pier Opening Day | St. Pete, FL

This year, 68 projects and programs from across the Americas region were submitted for the competition.

An 11-member jury selected 21 finalists, and after visiting all of the projects chosen — along with talking to the teams that created them — the jury chose 10 winners.

In addition to an open category, which recognizes all product types, the categories for this year's awards included Equitable Development, Low-Carbon Development, Resilient Development, Small-Scale Development, and Urban Open Space.

St. Pete Pier was recognized in the Urban Open Space category.

According to ULI: "The St. Petersburg community has had a 100+ year-long love affair with its Piers. The Pier serves as the gateway to the city at the city’s shoreline. It seamlessly blends into the city proper and, in addition to the delight of residents and visitors, has contributed greatly to the continued economic vitality of St. Petersburg."

A large five-story building made of concrete and glass window panes with a large metal overhang sits on a pier at sunset.
Rich Montalbano
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Rimo Photo, LL
The 26-acre Pier District redevelopment project cost $92 million in total. Architects of the new pier said the finished experience is a "spectacle" on the water, where the city meets the bay.

"This is an incredible, meaningful accomplishment for our city and our iconic waterfront. The ULI Awards for Excellence win puts the St. Pete Pier on the map as a world class destination for residents and visitors alike. Now we will compete on the global stage, providing further opportunity to showcase our great city and this amazing attraction. Thank you to the ULI and members of the jury for honoring us with this year's award," said St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch.

The public can view the winners, finalists, and submissions at the 2022 ULI Americas Awards for Excellence gallery.

Sarah Petrowich is the WUSF Stephen Noble Social Media intern for summer of 2022.
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