This isn’t the first time a “Pier Park” has been proposed for downtown St. Pete’s waterfront.
In 1984, St. Pete voters rejected a proposal for a massive renovation to the Pier approach called Pier Park. That proposal would have included a theater, marine science center, arboretum, museums, shops and restaurants.
The cost for that project would have been $72 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of nearly $150 million.
The rejection of that project led to at least one loss for the city. The Bounty, a 114-foot-long replica of the HMS Bounty, was moved from its home in the Vinoy Basin to Miami as a result of losing the proposed development.
In a February 1985 article in the Evening Independent, the Bounty’s captain and manager Hugh Boyd called the vote a “strong reason” for moving.
“Something like Pier Park could have turned us around,” the paper quoted Boyd.
The move also meant losing the ship’s cast and crew of 28 people to Miami.
The ship was originally built for the 1962 movie re-make, Mutiny on the Bounty. It was also used in Monty Python’s Yellowbird.
It’s the same Bounty that capsized in the Atlantic Ocean on its way home to St. Pete during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
This little history lesson serves as a reminder that issues surrounding the city’s pier have always been contentious.
Most recently, voters rejected “The Lens” in 2013. That design had been approved by City Council. When the Million Dollar Pier was demolished the space sat vacant from 1967 until the current inverted pyramid was built in 1973.
The current Pier has now been shuttered for two years as the city moves forward with yet another process to replace the aging structure.
The new Pier Park design is already facing a mounting cry for rejection, including complaints that the team didn’t follow the city’s Request for Qualification process adequately and a petition effort that would require voters to decide by referendum on any downtown waterfront construction projects.