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St. Pete collecting bids for Pier Park restaurant

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The city of St. Petersburg is searching for a restaurant to occupy space in the proposed Pier Park design. This month the city sent out a 56-page request for proposal for a restaurant and bar to sit at the end of the pier above the deck.

The RFP asks for a “nationally or regionally recognized chain restaurant or uniquely branded destination restaurant.”

The space is meant for casual dining at fairly affordable prices. The space would be about 7,600 square feet. The winning bidder would have input into the final layout and would be responsible for its own interior build out. That means whoever leases the space from the city would be able to individualize the restaurant’s décor and interior infrastructure.

The winning restaurant would also provide banquet services and service events on the proposed Great Lawn and water lounge area.

The term of the lease is expected to be 10 years. No rent has been specified. Instead those completing an RFP are asked to submit their own rent proposals.

The city will host a pre-bid meeting Sept. 18. Bids are due by 1 p.m. Nov. 5.

Whatever proposals are submitted to the city are a matter of public record, but can contain redactions to maintain restaurants’ trade secrets.

Another RFP is expected in 2016 for two other restaurants on the Pier Uplands. Those restaurant shells are not a part of the Pier Park budget. Instead, their funding would come from the downtown tax incremental fund district.

One of those restaurants is expected to be fine dining and the other more casual. The popular Columbia Restaurant is expected to bid on one of the uplands spaces.

The Columbia had been open in the inverted pyramid for years. During the Pier selection process that yielded the Lens, Casey Gonzmart, who owns the chain, supported a design known as “Alma” because it contained proposed restaurant space on the uplands.

Gonzmart argued dining couldn’t be successful at the Pier head because it would be too far of a walk for people – especially those who may be dressed up for a fine dining experience.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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