ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The St. Pete Pier is finally starting to take shape, after more than a decade of planning. Construction crews took ABC Action News behind the scenes on a hard hat tour. Crews are starting to build the education center, which is the first vertical building going up on the pier.
“We’ve got a long way to go but it’s exciting to see a project that’s been going on for well over 10 years to finally get to a point where the public can see it is coming and we will soon have a place to go,” explained Chris Ballestra, St. Petersburg's managing director of development.
The $40 million project will officially be finished by the end of 2019.
This week, crews also started work to build the Doc Ford’s Restaurant on the pier.
Crews are working six days a week Monday-Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. They recently finished drilling 426 pilings into Tampa Bay waters surrounding the pier for support.
Ballestra says crews are borrowing design ideas from other well-known landmarks like the High Line in New York. The pier will have an over the water walkway surrounded by natural Florida plants and trees.
He says the variety of activities on this pier is what makes it unique including three restaurants, a splash pad, fishing docks, amphitheater, beach, playground, education center, rooftop bar, shops and a large elevated lawn with a view of the city.
“Everybody wants a wow moment. Everyone has a different idea of what that wow moment is and I think this pier will give it to them,” Ballestra explained.
The new pier will also feature a bit of history with the old pilings from the 1926 version of the pier included in the new design.
The most notable part of the new pier is the view. From the end of the construction site, you can see the St. Pete skyline surrounded by crystal clear blue water.
“The view is astounding, there is nothing else like it on Earth. Literally. I don’t just say Tampa Bay. There’s nothing else like it on planet earth,” Ballestra said.
The St. Pete Pier will be around 1,500 feet long, which Ballestra says also makes it unique.
“There are only a few piers on the planet that are that long," he said. "You can count them on just over one hand.”