To a mixed chorus of “hallelujahs” and sobs the St. Petersburg Pier is finally going to come down. According to St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s spokesperson, Ben Kirby, the city has secured the necessary permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin demolition.
He said they are giving contractor Sonny Glasbrenner notice to proceed this week.
The process is expected to take 60 days to topple the inverted pyramid and another four months for the rest of the approach and Pier head.
The cost to the city for that demolition: $3.2 million.
City Council on July 9 approved the demolition expense as well as the contract with architects to build a new Pier. A fence went up around the Pier almost immediately after that vote in anticipation of swift demolition.
The city assumed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits weren’t needed for the actual structure, but the Corps stepped in and said they did because it was located in navigable waterways.
Demolition is a huge win for the Kriseman administration because it removes some leverage from supporters. Groups trying to save the current Pier have launched a petition drive that would ask voters via referendum whether they should have a say at the ballot box on any construction or demolition projects on downtown waterfront.
Without a Pier to save, it’s unclear whether the group VoteOnThePier would continue with that push. The latest petition would affect more than just the Pier.
The city is planning a celebration honoring the old Pier and celebrating the future still to come. That gathering is expected sometime in the next two weeks. Kirby did not have details on the event.
Once the wrecking ball has done its work, architects will get to work on building Pier Park, the design approved by St. Pete City Council. Construction on a new Pier isn’t expected to begin until late 2016, with the project being completed by 2018.