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St. Pete Council moves Pier ahead with more money

By Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writer
Published: December 7, 2017 Updated: December 7, 2017 at 06:56 PM
The St. Petersburg council approved the money needed to keep the Pier District moving forwardt. [City of St. Petersburg]

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council readily approved another phase in funding for the $76 million Pier District on Thursday.

The funds included $18 million for work to complete what had been the original pier project and an additional $2.8 million for enhancements. The council, which had approved an initial $17.6 million in June, also authorized $800,000 in contingency funding.

Thursday’s unanimous vote by the six of eight council members present puts the total construction price for this area of the Pier District — the pierhead to Spa Beach — at $39 million. It’s the guaranteed maximum price from Skanska USA Building, the pier’s construction manager, to cover the cost of building the area of the project before it was expanded into a 26-acre district.

Raul Quintana, the city’s architect, described Thursday’s step as "a significant milestone" in the arduous 10-year effort to give St. Petersburg a new pier.

Noting the "very tight" construction market, Quintana added that by approving the contract now, "Skanska can lock in all of their sub pricing."

The council is expected to address a guaranteed maximum price contract for the remainder of the project, the $20 million pier approach from Spa Beach to Bayshore Drive NE, in February or March.

Construction began this summer and work is continuing with the driving of 425 concrete piles into the bay bottom. The piles will support the 92,000-square-foot concrete deck, which is already being poured. The deck will support components such as the pier head and education center buildings and a "coastal thicket" with trees, landscaping and a boardwalk.

The enhancements budgeted so far — upgrading a splash pad, constructing a second breakwater off Spa Beach and building a 13,000-square-foot shaded pavilion with restrooms and open-air snack shack — will be covered with funds not originally budgeted. That money will come from $14 million in reallocated funds once designated for a mixed-use transportation facility in the city’s downtown. In September, the County Commission approved St. Petersburg’s request to allow up to $10 million of that sum for the pier project, with the remainder allocated to improve transportation and parking downtown.

During Thursday’s meeting, council members also voted to clarify "good faith" efforts by Skanska to adhere to the city’s disadvantaged workers and apprenticeship ordinances. Under city regulations, projects of more than $2 million, such as the Pier District and the new Police Department headquarters, require that at least 10 percent of all labor hours be performed by disadvantaged workers. The same percentage applies to apprentices.

Council member Charlie Gerdes thanked Skanska for its desire "to get to yes" on meeting the city’s requirements.

According to Skanksa’s schedule, the pier is expected to be complete in May 2019.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes