St. Pete approves $20M to create 'Pier District'

The St. Petersburg City Council gave the final approvals Thursday to spend $20 million creating a new "Pier District" to compliment a new $45 million downtown pier. 

"The idea is that we're going to spend a lot of public money on that pier...and we need to connect that to the greater downtown and the city in general," the city's David Goodwin explained. 

The city has already started the process of selecting an architectural team to refine improvements envisioned in general terms in a new waterfront master plan.  Applicants are supposed to explain how they will involve the public in the final design phase. 

"It's very important for us that, as this project evolves, we continue to touch base with the community, we continue to get the community's feedback," Goodwin continued.

The Pier District includes Bayshore Drive from the Vinoy Hotel to Pioneer Park, next to Al Lang Stadium, plus the park land between Bayshore and the actual pier.  Features should include provisions for two new waterfront restaurants, an open-air market, and a new pedestrian bridge. 

Bayshore will be flattened into a pedestrian promenade that can accommodate vehicles, but also be closed off to create a curbless event space between Straub Park and the boat basin seawalls. 

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While City Council took care of Pier business on City Hall's second floor, pier architects and engineers met on the first floor.  John Curran, that project's lead architect, told FOX 13 News the design team is still gathering detailed information needed to refine the conceptual design of Pier Park. 

"The public will see exactly what it's going to look like and get a really clear understanding of every detail" around the first of the year, Curran said. 

Curran also confirmed the same team selected to build the Pier is bidding for the Pier District project. 

"Not that we have an advantage, but we like to think that we know this place better than anybody," Curran added.

Goodwin said the two projects, the Pier and the Pier District, will be coordinated. 

"A seamless, integrated, single project is the concept."