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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.