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Don't Pier the Reaper

A petition drive to save the Pier is not looking good. Our iconic building may be demolished for a $50 million curvy sidewalk.

Downtown St. Petersburg obviously has a lot of iconic places.  We have the Salvador Dali Museum, Tropicana Field, Mahaffey Theater and more.  Oh, and then - then – there is another standout icon:  The Pier.  And the Pier is almost doomed to the wrecking ball.

Our “iconic” Pier is, well, let’s just say interesting.

It looks like a cross between an alien mother-ship and an Egyptian pyramid built with Tinker Toys upside-down. A lot of people consider it an eyesore. But, you know, I like it.  And I’m not alone. 

Back to the way it looks, yeah, it's a bit strange.

And because it's a bit strange, it may be doomed.

The Pier is facing the wrecking ball because the pilings underneath it are deteriorating.  At least, that's the excuse that is being used; it's "the pilings" (where, really, I think it's mostly about more of the way it looks). 

It was built in 1973 and it’s getting a little old.  So, the big argument that has been happening for years now is:  A.) Fix the pilings.  B.) Tear it down and build a new one.

I guess the big factor is the $50 million pricetag. Do we take the $50 million and fix it, or build a new one for the same amount? 

I’m not sure where that amount of budgeted money came from through the City Council, but it seems to be the magic number. 

I guess it doesn’t just take several bucks to solve the issue.

As of now, the Pier will be gone next year, another memory.  It was decided that a new one will be built.  Different architect firms pitched ideas for a new pier to replace it, and the city decided on one.  It is a dumb one (sorry, architects, that designed the new one), in my honest opinion. 

They call it The Lens.  The Lens?  Really?!

There aren’t even any shops or restaurants to it.  Well, I guess their are inland, but not out into the bay. It’s just a big sidewalk, again, in my opinion (which is shared by others as well). 

I don’t like it.  We have enough sidewalks downtown.

Here’s why I like about our current Pier.

Listen, it may look a bit weird.  It may be a bit dated.  But it’s unique. 

And judging not by its looks, it’s very functional.  The place is 100 percent occupied even. And when you dine there, go there to shop or just to sight-see, it’s, well, cool.  The views from there are outstanding.  It is a great experience for us locals to take people and for tourists to enjoy. 

And that's not to say it could use a makeover.  Maybe new paint, new attractions, more appealing things for us residents of Tampa Bay – none of that would hurt.  The Pier itself, though, really stands out because of its, well, weirdness. 

Nobody ever talks of tearing down the Guggenheim in New York because it's a bit awkward.

There is a petition drive to save it. Me, as a registered voter, voted to save it as well. I really hope it doesn't get replaced.  Of course, I don’t know the mechanics for fixing it. 

Apparently it’s not easy and would be easier to knock it into the bay.  But, if we can go to the moon, I’m guessing we could fix the pilings.

A last-minute rescue is not looking good. 

If I were you, take advantage of the Pier while you can.  Because for now, it looks as our “iconic” building will soon become a $50 million curvy sidewalk.

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Nate Fakes July 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thanks, Jeannie. And yes, I hope the Lens concept does get put to rest. I'm so glad the momentum for support to keep the current pier keeps building! I think as time goes by and the more people think about it, they realize our pier is pretty unique and worth saving - not an eye-sore.
Nate Fakes July 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
It really would be great for St. Pete. Our city is set up pretty well for them as well (it seems to me). People would use them and definitely would add a boost to the area!
Jeannie Cline July 09, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Couldn't agree more! That group, Ride the Tide Tampa Bay has been promoting this and has been getting a whole lot of positive support!!! A water taxi connecting to a real streetcar in both Tampa and St Pete would be a total boost to this region. Sorry, those downtown "looper" trolleys are still buses.....slow, noisy, smelly......so "Branson, Missouri" touristy......a real system that would go to the beaches eventually is what we need.
Nate Fakes July 09, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Yea, the "trolleys" we have aren't the same as something authentic. I'm actually really surprised I don't hear more about wanting this. Seems like a no-brainer. Of course, I have no clue about the cost and everything, but it seems like revenues would be made up with tourism draw and local businesses.
Jeannie Cline July 11, 2012 at 02:09 AM
they are affordable and when included in a true mass transit line, they are a viable form of transportation due to our year round outdoor climate.....one central line in st pete can help us reduce the number of buses needed downtown....

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