Final vote to demolish Pier

Final vote to demolish Pier

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A St. Petersburg landmark is officially coming down. Thursday, City Council voted 7 to 1 to tear down the inverted pyramid building and re-develop the site of the Pier.

"I'm excited about the new opportunities a new pier could provide," said St. Pete resident Eric Allen. "I think it would provide a better venue for entertainment, a new structure."

That's the city's hope. It has $50 million allotted for the project, and the plan is for a new structure closer to shore.

"The only thing I hope is that it doesn't get too short," said Rob Bryant, another resident. "That's part of what makes it neat is to get out into the water."

The decision to demolish came with emotional debate. Wengay Newton was the lone councilman wanting to save the Pier and hear more public input. He pushed to delay the vote and put the question to voters through a ballot referendum. Both motions failed.

"It's a sad day because you're going to let five people determine this asset be reduced to rubble and I think that's criminal at best," Newton said to his fellow council members.

Mayor Bill Foster reminded Newton of the fact that the Pier isn't making money.

"You're not addressing the 1.2 to 1.6 million dollars in annual subsidies that will continue forever," said Foster.

The Pier isn't attracting locals on a regular basis, according to city leaders.

"People have to want to go there to shop and buy something and now, they've got stuff, but it's just tourist junk, isn't it?" said Bryant.

The inverted pyramid has stood for 37 years. There is sentimental attachment and memories, but now more than ever, it looks like it won't be here much longer.

"No one likes to see a structure like that torn down, but I just don't think it can meet the needs of our community today," said Allen.

Council also voted on a tentative schedule for the project. By March, they hope to determine the parameters of the new pier design. The design phase will follow.

The Pier is slated for demolition at the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Last week, city council voted in a straw poll 5 to 3 to demolish the existing structure.

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