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The shuttered St. Pete Pier could be demolished later this month

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The inverted pyramid could come toppling down as soon as July 20 if City Council approves a series of ordinances associated with building a new Pier.

In addition to approving the contract with ASD/Rogers Partners to complete designs for Pier Park, City Council members will also vote on a contract with Sonny Gasbrenner, Inc. to demolish the Pier.

The $3.1 million task of bringing the Pier and its approach down can begin as soon as 10 days following Council approval. Day number 10, July 19, falls on a Sunday so it’s reasonable to assume if construction gets underway as quickly as possible the first day of construction would be Monday, July 20.

Initial demolition could only begin on the actual structure, the inverted pyramid, at the end of the Pier and not the approach. That’s because the building only requires a city permit for demolition, which the city has already obtained.

The rest of the Pier requires permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Those permits aren’t expected until later this summer.

Council is expected to approve the measure without too much turmoil among its ranks. However, a storm is brewing among Pier preservationists who want to see the structure salvaged.

Many of those Pier Park naysayers are already piecing together a petition drive to force a referendum and block the new design. In 2013, the group Concerned Citizens was successful in rallying enough support to force a referendum asking voters whether or not to kill the contract with architects to build the Lens. They were overwhelmingly successful.

This time around it’s the group Vote on the Pier behind efforts to thwart a new Pier. Instead of directly targeting Pier Park and its designers, however, this effort asks voters to support amending the City Charter to require voter approval for any demolition or new construction along downtown waterfront property.

That would include demolishing the Pier.

The hastened time frame puts Vote on the Pier in a peculiar situation. They are potentially left with very little time to gather the more than 10,000 signatures required to put a measure on the ballot. And even then, the city could still demolish the inverted pyramid.

The time frame could also mean positive footing for the city. It seems the quicker they rid the city of the inverted pyramid the quicker those who wanted to save it will be forced to move on.

Even without the Pier to bicker over, though, it’s likely the coming months will continue with arduous debate over the various components of Pier Park, like whether or not the floating docks pose a risk of carrying visitors off to Mexico.

But with the wrecking ball all but imminent, it does seem to take one battle off the table.

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 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

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