Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Consultant: St. Pete Pier District could draw millions

Analysts say the Pier District will create hundreds of jobs and bring in close to 2 million visitors a year.

Courtesy city of St. Petersburg

Analysts say the Pier District will create hundreds of jobs and bring in close to 2 million visitors a year.

By Waveney Ann moore

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — An economic analysis of the future Pier District promises a rosy return on the project's $66 million price tag.

The study by Lambert Advisory of Miami estimates that the district — which is not yet under construction and is expected to open at the end of 2018 — will have a potential annual economic impact on St. Petersburg of $80 million, create hundreds of jobs, bring in close to two million visitors a year and boost demand for hotels and restaurants.

Lambert expects spending by the anticipated crowds of local and out-of-town visitors to have a broad impact beyond the 26-acre Pier District and the surrounding downtown area. Visitors are expected to spend about $30 million for food and beverages, $10 million for retail and services and $15 million for hotels.

In a prepared statement following the report's release, Mayor Rick Kriesman said he was "thrilled" that the district "will not only be a world-class destination for residents and for visitors from around the world, but that it will also have such a strong economic impact."

City Council member Karl Nurse's response was somewhat muted.

"Candidly, I don't put a lot of credence on these reports. The impact of building something is pretty straightforward," he said, referring to the $17.5 million in wages expected from the 365 full-time jobs that would be created during the district's construction.

"When you add entertainment activities to an area, the only net gain is bringing money from out of the area into the area," Nurse said.

"So economically, if it causes visitors to come or stay longer, then there's an economic gain. Otherwise, it's just additional choices for people who live in the area. I have never seen an economic impact study that I haven't thought was inflated."

Meanwhile, the waiting continues for a key permit to get the project started. Pinellas County issued its permit in late April, but one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still pending.

"We expect to have that shortly," said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination. "They committed to get that to us this month."

When that happens, workers will begin driving piles into Tampa Bay for the over-the-water component of the project.

In the meantime, on June 1, the City Council will be asked to appropriate $17.6 million, the guaranteed maximum price from Skanska USA Building — the project's construction manager — for marine structural work to construct the pier platform. The money will be a portion of the original $34 million estimated for construction costs before what was going to be simply a new pier, was expanded into the Pier District, with its current budget of $66 million.

Other decisions await in coming weeks. On June 7, the pier public art committee will consider whether to commission a sculpture from internationally renowned artist Janet Echelman.

In April, the council approved a $75,000, two-phase agreement with the artist, who was born in Tampa and has her studio in Massachusetts. At their upcoming meeting, the pier art committee will review phase one, which will include a feasibility study, at least two concept designs and cost estimates. Phase two — along with the second half of the $75,000 payment — would only proceed if the city decides to go forward with the full project, which could cost many thousands of dollars more.

Also, Pinellas County Commissioners still have to decide whether to allow St. Petersburg to allocate up to an additional $10 million to increase amenities at the Pier District, along with $4 million for transportation and parking throughout downtown. The money would come from tax increment financing, or TIF, funds once meant for a downtown transit hub that's no longer planned.

Kriseman had originally wanted all of the money to be used for Pier District "enhancements." The proposed extras include a $1.3 million signature art element — though mayoral spokesman Ben Kirby said two donors have pledged "significant support for an Echelman piece" — $2 million for a floating platform and $1 million for playground equipment. City Council members pushed back at spending all of the money on the new district and eventually voted to spend a portion on transportation and parking, as well.

As yet, Ballestra said the city's request has not been scheduled to be heard by the County Commission.

"We're working with the county to schedule a time," he said. "We look forward to getting that on their agenda shortly."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes

Consultant: St. Pete Pier District could draw millions 05/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again

    Cooking

    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  3. What you need to know for Monday, Sept. 25

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]
  4. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash

    Accidents

    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.