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Support poles for Janet Echelman sculpture at the St. Pete Pier are up

Construction will start next month on the billowing aerial structure.

There’s a new focal point at the St. Pete pier construction site.

Construction crews have installed tall white poles in the family park area of the new pier near Spa Beach. The polls are the pylons that will support the billowing aerial Janet Echelman sculpture planned for the space.

Construction on the giant net sculpture that will float above pier-goers’ heads will begin in late December.

Echelman, who was named an Architectural Digest innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces,” was chosen to design the aerial sculpture as a major public art focal point at the new pier.

Echelman’s inspiration for the colors and shape of the sculpture is derived from historic postcards showing beachgoers sitting under striped parasols and the natural forms of barnacle colonies under the pier.

Construction crews began laying the foundation for the structure in May.

The poles to support the structure went up as crews are continuing late-stage work on the pier that now resembles the early renderings chosen for the new pier through a massive public design competition process that concluded in mid-2016.

The main structure at the pier head shows a nearly complete shell of what the building will eventually be. The tilted lawn that slants upward from the ground giving picnickers views of the downtown St. Pete skyline from the pier is complete with grass.

Trees line several parts of the pier foundation and solar panels are already installed in a parking area near the marina.

Construction is ongoing to interior work at the pier head building, discovery center, Doc Ford’s restaurant and the pier pavilion. Crews are also this winter installing play equipment, the boardwalk, lighting and landscaping in the coastal thicket and vendor stalls in the pier marketplace area.

Major completion on the entire pier project is expected by the end of this year with the opening sometime early next year, though an exact date had yet to be determined.

The pier was supposed to open by the end of this year, but unexpected projects including replacing sea walls caused some delays.

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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