New St Petersburg Pier District
Brings Residents and Tourists a Place To Enjoy
The New St Petersburg Pier District has so much to offer. St. Petersburg has always had a pier. In fact, in the city’s early days, it had several of them jutting out into Tampa Bay. But none can compete with the new St. Petersburg Pier that opened in July. It’s not just a Pier—it’s a Pier District!
The New St. Petersburg Pier District includes a variety of dining and shopping options, interactive experiences, a spacious family park with a custom-built, million-dollar playground, fishing pier, art installations, beach area and breathtaking views of the waterfront as well as restaurants and shops.
Visitors can arrive to the New St Petersburg Pier District via boat and dock at one of the courtesy boat slips set to be completed in October just inside the central yacht basin’s entrance, south of Doc Ford’s restaurant, or they can drive and park in a lot fit-out with solar photovoltaic canopies. Once visitors are at the park, they can hop on the eco-friendly trams that continuously run connecting the entire property. (RIGHT-Marina Photo by Charlie Alestra)
One of the highlights of the new St. Petersburg Pier is its Discovery Center and Wet Classroom, run by Tampa Bay Watch, an environmental organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary. It has interactive indoor classrooms and an outdoor “wet” classroom and observation deck.
The highly anticipated opening of the 26-acre New St Petersburg Pier District marks a historic moment for the St. Petersburg community. One of the Pier Approach project’s most unique artistic installations is the “Bending Arc,” an aerial sculpture by internationally renowned artist and Tampa Bay native Janet Echelman. Her newest permanent work is a billowing net creation with more than 1.6 million knots and 180 miles of twine that stands 72 feet in height at its tallest point and spans over 1.5 acres above the park’s tree canopy. It brilliantly shines at night with colored LED specialty lighting. (RIGHT) Bending Arc by Janet Echelman
Other project components include an interactive splash pad, tilted lawn, the Spa Beach Pavilion, the Marketplace with its Solar Shade Structures and Market Stalls, the 35,000-sq. ft. pier plaza, a fishing deck and the Pier’s focal point, the five-story Pierhead building.
Among the Pier’s resiliency and sustainability elements are five of the previous pier’s caissons that have been preserved and are now being used to support the fishing deck of the new pier. The new 24 by 24 in. precast concrete pile foundations were driven an average of 75 ft. below the mudline and are made with FDOT class five concrete, including admixtures for extreme marine environments and weather conditions and built to have a lifetime of at least 75 years.
In addition to taking wind, weather and hurricane risks into consideration when designing and building the structure, the new Pier has been elevated to consider projected sea level rise through the year 2100 as it was raised more than 5 ft. above that of previous piers.
In all, the new Pier District facility cost $93 million, nearly twice the original estimate, but the district has grown from its original 5.5 acres to 26 acres and has become a free waterfront destination for families from throughout Tampa Bay and visitors from across the country and beyond. A large portion of the funds were provided by donations. (LEFT Entrance of new St. Petersburg Pier District by Charlie Alestra)
The new St. Petersburg Pier District replaces the most recent pier. The Inverted Pyramid, with its unconventional, forward-thinking structure was built on top of the 1926 Pier head. Designed by noted architect William Harvard, Sr., it opened to the public in 1973. The iconic design continued the tradition of an over–water public gathering place and tourist attraction in downtown St. Petersburg for four decades until it closed in 2013 to make way for the new St. Petersburg Pier. Over the years, it housed three restaurants, snack bars, miniature golf, novelty shops, an aquarium and breathtaking views of Tampa Bay.
The structure closed in 2013 (LEFT) to make way for a new St. Petersburg Pier. The new Pier was designed by Rogers Partners, ASD | SKY, and landscape architect Ken Smith Workshop, is the eighth pier St. Petersburg has had since the late 19th century. With a rich history that dates back 130 years, the original Railroad Pier was built in 1889. The Pier Approach was Designed by W Architecture, Landscape Architecture LLC and Wannemacher Jensen Architects. The City of St. Petersburg engaged the public in the project to redesign and redevelop the pier, with Skanska selected to provide preconstruction and construction management services for both the Pier and the accompanying Pier Approach. focused on elevating the pedestrian experience.
Content written by Jackie McCallum. Photography by the city of St Petersburg as well as multiple sources noted in caption. For more going on in St Pete check out the St Petersburg Songwriters festival here. Or, consider checking out the St Pete Opera or St Pete musuem here. Another really popular event will be the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.