Study: New pier could bring $80 million to St. Pete

- An economic impact study on the new St. Petersburg Pier predicts the attraction will draw $80 million to the city in its first year of operation.

The figure was estimated by Lambert Advisory, a consulting firm hired by the city.

St. Pete officials say the money is based on what residents and tourists will likely spend at restaurants, stores, and hotels once they are drawn to the city by the new pier.

"They're going to the pier, spending money there, but then staying in the city and spending money in other places. They may go from the pier to the beach. They may go to the Edge District, Grand Central, the Deuces or even out west," said  St Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The study estimated $15 million will generate from hotels, expected to fill 102,000 additional rooms a year. Mayor Kriseman said if the study's numbers prove to be true, the revenue would more than pay for the estimated $40 million operating cost for the pier.

"Even if you were to discount it 50 percent or 75 Kriseman.

Beginning next month, underwater construction will start on the new St. Petersburg Pier.

Some are questioning if money is being wisely spent on construction, among them, is Former Mayor Rick Baker.

"When the mayor took office, he had promised the voters two things. One is that he'd have a pier built by 2015. Well, that didn't happen. The second thing he promised was that he would let the voters decide which pier we were going to build," said Baker, who supported building the Destination St. Pete Pier, a design that called for building a new pier on top of the existing structure, rather than starting from scratch.

"It would have been able to be done on budget, as opposed to the current pier, which is way over budget, and they would have been able to deliver what they are promising," said Baker.

Kriseman said an original budget was established in 2005 when Baker was still in office, but the current staff helped create a new process and design.

"The budget never changed. The pier is still on budget, within that $50 million. We have a waterfront master plan phase that's also on budget," said Kriseman.

The study also estimates that 325 full-time jobs will be created locally because of the pier.

To read the full economic impact study, visit: http://www.newstpetepier.com/docs/StPetePier_EcoImpactAssess_Final_v1.pdf

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