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Tuesday, Aug 14, 2018
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The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.

The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming rights possibilities for the 26-acre Pier District.

The grand opening of the city’s new pier is scheduled for early fall of 2019. Because that deadline is an issue, Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator, told council members that staff is working feverishly to meet the schedule.

"We recognize that there’s a lot here," he told them about the number of decisions they faced at Thursday’s meeting. "This is really the start of it, because we are going to be coming with waves and waves and waves of approvals on different aspects on this."

Noting that the deadline for finishing the project has fluctuated, City Council member Ed Montanari wondered whether the summer 2019 completion date would slip further.

City architect Raul Quintana said it would not.

Behind the scenes, the city is gearing up to market the area and has applied to make "St. Pete Pier’’ a registered trademark.

"It’s a signature destination," said Nina Mahmoudi, the city’s marketing director.

"It’s just kind of another order of business. We want to take our name seriously and be able to use it as a formal name when we are doing our marketing efforts. Much like in California, where you have the Santa Monica Pier."

She said city officials have not yet discussed specific guidelines for how people will be allowed to use the trademarked St. Pete Pier name. It will, she said, be the official name for the entire area that begins on the edge of downtown and extends 1,265 feet into Tampa Bay from its southern bridge. The city has been referring to the expanse as the Pier District.

Mahmoudi said the decision to register the name has nothing to do with a problem in 2015, when the city had to stop calling the project Pier Park. It was the name given by the architects who designed the initial phase of the project. Pier Park, though, was challenged by the St. Joe Co., owner, developer and manager of real estate in Florida. St. Petersburg was infringing on its trademark rights, it said.

That year, Pier Park quietly became the St. Pete Pier.

Registering the words is "part of our process," Mahmoudi said. "We want to be as formal as we can about everything."

The trademark application, submitted in June 2017, cost $1,575, a drop in the bucket for the $76 million project.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Concrete makes St. Petersburg pier plans more real

Council members also approved a $15 million guaranteed maximum price from Skanska USA to construct the pier approach, an area that begins near Spa Beach, runs to Bayshore Drive NE and will include a playground and the former Pelican Parking Lot, where Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille will be built.

Skanska will get an additional $121,500 for pre-construction services for Doc Ford’s, the playground and other site work.

The council also authorized an additional $589,254 for W Architecture of New York, which is designing the approach with local architects Wannemacher Jensen. The city will pay the architects a total of $2,457,284.

Chris Ballestra, the city’s managing director of development coordination, told council members that Doc Ford’s will be elevated on piles and have a flat roof line. He added that the restaurant will use its own architect for the interior, which will feature the traditional Doc Ford’s look.

"The exterior will be consistent with the architecture of the other pier structures," Quintana said.

The council agreed to a 10-year agreement — a time period limited by the city charter — with Doc Ford’s to lease 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space on the waterfront in the Pelican lot. The base rent will be $370,000 a year.

Also on Thursday, council members approved a contract, not to exceed $700,000, with Earthscape of Ontario, Canada. The company will design, fabricate and deliver custom play equipment for the playground, which will be built near the former Dolphin parking lot. Money for this part of the project and other "enhancements" will come from $10 million of $14 million in funds once designated for a mixed-use transportation facility in the city’s downtown.

Another contract, with Sports & Properties, was also approved. The Raleigh, N.C., firm will evaluate the pier district’s potential for generating revenue from naming rights. That contract is for $98,000, plus commissions based on a percentage of revenue generated from naming rights agreements. DeLisle, invoking Chicago’s internationally known Millennium Park, said any acknowledgement plaques at St. Petersburg’s pier will also be tastefully done.

It was also a day for council to celebrate a $250,000 donation from the American Academy of Dermatology for a shade structure adjacent to Spa Beach.

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

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