Baywalk Demolition Begins
A construction fence cordons off most of the outdoor mall in downtown St. Pete, as buildings that make up the mall are torn down.
Baywalk is fast fading into St. Petersburg history.
The Spanish-style outdoor mall's opening in 2000 had marked the start of the revitalization of downtown St. Petersburg.
Now the largely vacant mall is being reduced to rubble to make way for a new development. Only the Muvico Theater and Happy Feet, the Birkenstock store, were open Saturday, with most of the mall fenced off, as demolition has started.
The project is being headed by Bill Edwards. In March he presented to the St. Petersburg City Council his vision for the future of Baywalk.
As you walk into the complex now, Edwards said, it is like you are walking into a fortress. "It's uninviting," he said.
"We will be taking the box office out of there and opening it up," Edwards said at the March city council meeting. "Want to get rid of that and have an open courtyard."
According to Edwards, the project is slated to last 12-13 months.
Edwards said retailers being brought into the complex are nationally known and will be accessible to all people of St. Petersburg. He said it is crucial for downtown St. Pete to have retail options nearby.
"Put in ladies' clothing, men’s clothing, shoes – things that you can’t buy downtown (right now)," Edwards said. Currently, "You have to go over the bridge, go to the mall."
The future complex, which will be renamed, will have three "very iconic" restaurants to anchor the complex.
Edwards is the CEO of Mortgage Investors Corp, and The Club at Treasure Island. He also runs a music production company that last year won the city's contract to manage the Mahaffey Theater. He is also presenting this year's Taste of Pinellas.