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Photos: St. Pete Pier Is Progressing, And Timeline For Opening In Focus

An overview shot from across the water shows the end of the St. Pete Pier.
Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media
The $92 million St. Pete Pier project will open in a number of phases starting this spring, culminating with a grand opening sometime during the summer.

While construction on the St. Pete Pier nears completion, a cohesive timeline of when that will happen - and when it will open - is becoming clearer. 

The $92 million project was originally set to wrap up in 2018. However setbacks ensued, delaying it to December 2019, and then even further back to this spring.

According to St. Petersburg spokesman Ben Kirby, there should be a number of opening phases, starting this spring and culminating with a grand opening sometime during the summer. 

"When people see this Pier, what a fantastic bargain we're getting for this amount of money. The size and scope of it really is spectacular," said Kirby.

Since the beginning of this year, construction has progressed on the Pier.

In addition, the installation of Tampa Bay native Janet Echelman’s $1.47 million flying sculpture titled “Bending Arc” began. However, much like the building it will accompany, the process has not gone without complications.

The sculpture was been taken down due to an issue discovered in the early stages of installation. But Kirby assured that it will be back soon. 

“Right now, it's in a facility in Washington State,” he said. “They're doing some adjusting elements to it.”

Twine sculpture against a pastel skyline
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Installation of Janet Echelman’s $1.47 million flying sculpture, “Bending Arc,” had began near the Pier earlier this year. It's since been removed for repairs.

The sculpture, made of 84 miles of twine and more than a million knots, will be suspended 76 feet in the air at its highest point and will stretch to a maximum width of 428 feet.

Other features that will be included in the new waterfront district is the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, Teak, 17 vendors in the Pier’s marketplace, the reopening of Spa Beach, and a $1 million playground.

Twine sculpture over a playground
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
The 'Bending Arc' sculpture hung above the St. Pete Pier playground before being taken down to 'adjust elements,' according to Kirby.

"One of the beautiful things about this Pier is that it doesn't matter if you've got $5 in your pocket or $5,000, you can find something to do at this pier, you can find something to enjoy," said Kirby. 

The completion of the St. Pete Pier will mark an end to a nearly decade-long project. 

“The pier was funded a little bit differently than other municipal projects,” said Kirby. “There was money set aside and put into a sort of lock box. And that was about $50 million dollars.”

As the years passed, the city began to come to the conclusion that they wanted to build what Kirby called a “generational project” - a structure that will appear worthy to the people of St. Petersburg. 

"The mayor worked with our friends at Pinellas County and leveraged some more dollars from there,” said Kirby.

“It's taxpayer money. But I believe and the Mayor believes that taxpayers are going to find it to be worth it.”

Structure being built on the water of Tampa Bay
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Pier Point, the four level structure at the end of the Pier, will house Teak, a fine dining restaurant named after tropical hardwood; the rooftop Pier Teaki, a modern take on the classic tiki bar; and the Driftwood Cafe, a casual walk-up snack spot on the ground level.

Entrance walkway to the St. Pete Pier
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Nestled between the St. Petersburg Museum of History and Fresco's Waterfront Bistro, the new entrance to the St. Pete Pier will be the location for The Marketplace, where 17 local vendors will have the opportunity to sell their crafts, artworks, and other items.

Kirby said, with the Pier in its final stretch of construction, an official opening date should be released soon.

“There will be news coming out soon about a date,” said Kirby. “We'll have more information on our summer of experiences around the Pier soon. We're just really excited about it, and we hope citizens are as well.”

Thomas Iacobucci is the WUSF visual news intern for the fall 2019 semester. He is currently a senior at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he is completing his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Digital Communication.
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