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2019 brings latest St. Pete pier updates

The first St. Petersburg City Council meeting of 2019 Thursday will include several updates to construction contracts for the new pier.

City Council members will vote on a series of budget changes to accommodate continued construction activity and increases to initial cost projections. That includes $47,000 to the city’s contract with Florida Associated Space Design in association with Rogers Partners for structural analysis and design for a Nick Ervinck sculpture on the pier plaza.

Ervinck is a Belgium-based artist expected to create a structure mimicking a water splash.

The amendment will bring the total contract amount from $4.3 million to nearly $4.7 million. None of the cost changes will affect the total allotment for pier construction and design.

“We don’t have more money so it does not affect the overall budget,” said pier spokesperson Kristin Brett.

City Council members will also vote on a $950,000 increase to plans for a Doc Ford’s restaurant where the Pelican Parking Lot currently sits. That increase includes $100,000 for contingency. The increase will come from the $10 million enhancement funds City Council previously approved. Those funds are from a canceled transportation project that fell through after voters rejected the Greenlight Pinellas transit plan in 2014.

Doc Ford’s will be a 10,000-square-foot restaurant with about 3,380 square feet of that outside under cover. The city had originally budgeted $3 million for the restaurant from the $20 million fund for the pier approach.

The costs include ornamental exterior handrails and guardrails made from welded aluminum and covered with a powder coat.

The Doc Ford’s shell is expected to be complete by Sept. 20, at which point the restaurant operator can begin interior improvements for opening in early 2020.

The entire pier approach is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

City Council will also approve officially naming the new pier “St. Pete Pier.” That decision was made more than a year ago after Panama City Beach warned St. Pete that it was infringing on its own already named Pier Park. This vote will make that name official and open the door for the city to trademark the name.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She 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 die-hard 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 contentious issues surrounding transit. 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 a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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