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Video: Pier Business Owners Want Public Vote

Business owners call for a public vote and renovations and question the May 31 closing date for the St. Pete Pier.

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.

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JW February 26, 2013 at 09:18 PM
How do you rebuild the approach with new retail and maintain access to the existing pier building until its done.
sparky February 26, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Nic has it right the end goal is to build commercial spaces on our parkland no matter what. The city charter says parkland is protected from development. A 7,500 sq.ft. restaurant with rooftop dining will block the view from the park along beach drive. To paraphrase Obama...We need a vote- give the people a vote- or we will most certainly vote you out.
sparky February 26, 2013 at 09:41 PM
How about you leave the retail out on the water, redo the AC in the current building, replace or shore up the approach as the original ordinance said and preserve our parkland for free access to the water and its view?
Nicolas Weathersbee February 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Demolish the south approach first, then build the retail, leaving the north approach open to keep access to the pier during the retail construction. When the south approach retail is done, the tenants move in(those that wish to stay). Once the tenants have moved in, you close off the north approach, demolish and rebuild it, as well as the pier deck around the building. At this time you reinforce/protect the caissons with a sheet wall system, and then gut and restore the inverted pyramid. The construction would be an attraction in itself.
Bill H. February 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM
But the city/tax payers are putting in $500,000 for the Columbia. They are also on the hook for the lease agreement which has a repayment/penalty clause if not renewed after ten yeras. Once again, another way to get around letting the people have a vote. Not all businesses that rent have the ability to buy their own space.

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