Business owners Fred Dabardelaben and Ahmad Shamsedding were among a handful of protestors at the city's announcement at the St. Pete Pier on Thursday. Mayor Bill Foster and Columbia Restaurant Group President Richard Gonzmart gathered at the Pelican Parking lot to announce a partnership and plan to build a new Columbia Restaurant at the Hub, as part of "The Lens" project.
Protestors held up "Stop The Lens" signs and posters calling for a public vote behind a line of media cameras at the event.
Shamsedding and his wife own World Treasures and Burger Bay, both located in the St. Pete Pier. Shamsedding came out to the press conference and asked Mayor Foster why the city chose May 31 to close the pier. He said his business will suffer, not only because he is being forced to close, but because it's right before the busy season.
Foster told Shamsedding that businesses need time before the scheduled demolition in August.
Debardelaben, owner of Pier Dolphin Cruises, is demanding a public vote, stating that he doesn't want to see the city in debt over the next 30 years for this project.
For the past 22 years Debardelaben has seen customers return year after year to his business. If his business suffers when he moves its location, he may have to let go some of his employees, he said.
Watch our attached video interviews to hear more from Debardelaben and Shamsedding.
- Columbia Restaurant to Open New Location at 'The Lens' in St. Pete
- Pier Lawsuit Mediation Ends in Impasse
- Pier Mediation Continued
- New Pro-'Lens' Website Launched
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