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Community Voices: Thoughtful growth

Jason Mathis



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The Urban Land Institute (ULI) awarded the St. Pete Pier a Global Award for Excellence – a top honor from one of the most prestigious land development organizations in the world. Only five other projects around the world received this award. It’s a big deal. 

The Pier didn’t just magically rise out of Tampa Bay one day. It was built with foresight, community input, consternation, discarded designs, false starts, public and private investment and incredible work from city officials, artists, landscape designers, engineers, architects, restaurant owners and construction contractors. Open to everyone, inclusive, expansive, interactive and green, it embraces many of the values that make St. Pete great. 

In this election, voters have an opportunity to greenlight another important waterfront project. The Dali is seeking permission to utilize a driveway between the museum and a parking lot to double the size of their facility, adding technology and education space.

The expansion will ensure that The Dali retains its global leadership in innovation and creativity. Unlike the Pier, The Dali isn’t utilizing any funding from the city – it will be financed through tourism taxes and private fundraising. An expanded Dali will add to our artistic and creative efforts and help cement St. Pete’s place as a City of the Arts. With our award-winning Pier, it will bookend downtown’s waterfront parks and is the first phase of a reimagined arts complex that may some day also include a refurbished and expanded Mahaffey Theater. 

The Downtown Partnership recognizes that the success of our urban center is linked to support for all the arts. That’s why we partnered with city leaders and the St. Pete Arts Alliance to develop the Comprehensive Arts Strategy. Our goal has always been to support thoughtful, consistent, and appropriate funding for artists, performers, cultural institutions, and arts organizations. Investing in art creates a sense of place and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit that helps to fuel our economic growth and improve our quality of life. 

As much as we may want to freeze St. Pete in time and stop all new growth, that’s not possible. But we can manage growth and help to make sure we are evolving thoughtfully. Investing in amenities like the St. Pete Pier and supporting an expanded Dali will help to ensure that as we grow, we continue to support art, innovation and the values that make the Sunshine City such a compelling place.

Jason Mathis is CEO of St. Petersburg’s Downtown Partnership.

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  1. Avatar

    Andrea Graham

    November 2, 2022at5:43 pm

    In my opinion, the Dali Museum is the most beautiful piece of architecture in the area. Early renderings I have seen online show an expansion akin to a warehouse – and one that surely would detract from the waterfront. And isn’t that supposed to be protected from development?? Why not keep the present building as is for special exhibits and find land somewhere else to house the permanent collection and provide space for classes, etc. I’d prefer seeing something like that rather than another condo building! And by the way, in a previous reply someone posed the issue of rising sea levels. Am curious what plans there are to protect the art in all the museums – in case of another Ian.

  2. Jason Mathis

    Jason Mathis

    October 26, 2022at11:03 am

    Bruce –

    I sent you an email with my cell.

    The referendum language was actually amended and is designed to protect the Mahaffey from any negative impacts. There is concern about ingress and egress in the driveway when the Mahaffey has multiple shows on a single night. But the Dalí has multiple entry points into the lot they control that can be used to improve the same access. Here’s some background on the amendment and unanimous vote of support from the City Council.


  3. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    October 25, 2022at2:53 pm

    The Dali expansion threatens the Mahaffey????I can see that.
    I like the Mahaffey, it is all we have left of the old Bayfront Center where my family enjoyed the Circus, the Harlem Globetrotters , SPIFF and many other events in that so convenient location. We no longer have a convention center. I would rather have one instead of a baseball stadium.

  4. Avatar

    Bruce Nissen

    October 24, 2022at7:44 pm

    Jason, the Dali expansion sounds like a good idea, but I wonder what is the reasoning of those who oppose it, such as Bill Edwards? I keep seeing news reports stating that there is contention about the Dali expansion, but they never explain the arguments on each side in a way that is clear. My initial inclination is to support, but I sure would like to see an explanation of what the arguments are of those who oppose. Thanks,

  5. Avatar

    Carol Briam, PhD

    October 24, 2022at4:50 pm

    I would like to better understand the concerns of Mahaffey Theatre as this proposal apparently would be very damaging to the Mahaffey. I do not want to see any Dali expansion that jeopardizes the Mahaffey.

  6. Avatar

    patricia meyers

    October 24, 2022at4:22 pm

    I have to disagree with Jason Mathis.. we can stop growth, just stop issuing building permits. And of course, growth is just a polite euphemism for development. I love the Pier and I could support the Dali expansion but any new residential development projects should stop immediately. We don’t need more people, we don’t have the infrastructure ie: waste management is a disaster. And what about the Elephant in the Room?? Riising sea level and associated climate chaos… that’s where the City’s main focus should be.

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