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Dali Museum withdraws plans to proceed with $42M expansion

Veronica Brezina

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The Salvador Dali Museum is St. Petersburg's leading tourist-visitation museum. Photo provided.

The Dali Museum has withdrawn its plans to move forward on a long-sought-after $42 million expansion. 

The decision to pause on the plans comes after city officials expressed concerns last week on how the museum organization’s plans would impact the Grand Prix races and the Mahaffey Theater.

Over several years, The Dali has drafted a massive expansion that calls for a new wing with 20,000 square feet for community spaces and digital exhibits, and a new 150,000-square-foot parking garage.

The latest proposal was to use Lot 6 for the expansion. The lot is a narrow strip of waterfront property controlled by the city and would require a referendum for a change in the lease if The Dali were to pursue the property. 

A sketch of the lot locations. City of St. Pete.

The property also poses an issue to the neighboring Mahaffey Theater. The city staff was hopeful that all the parties could come to a mutual agreement on how the museum can proceed forward without it negatively impacting the theater and to further discuss the item this week; however, a mutual agreement was not formed.  

“We don’t agree with the current plan. We didn’t have any discussions on it,” Bill Edwards, CEO of Big 3 Entertainment Group, which operates the city-owned theater, told the St. Pete Catalyst. 

He said the Mahaffey Theater is planning to build a covered entrance that would directly be in the path of the expansion. 

“The city advised us that an expansion over the driveway (Lot 6) to the west of the museum could be achieved through voter referendum. However, we have not reached an agreement on the wording of the ordinance for the referendum,” museum director Hank Hine told the Catalyst in a prepared statement. 

The Dali requested that the item regarding the referendum be removed from the agenda for the St. Pete City Council meeting that took place Thursday. 

“We remain steadfast in our plans to create a revolutionary space for digital art experiences and are confident that the museum and the city will be successful in reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, we will not be able to complete negotiations within the time frame needed for a November referendum,” Hine said.  

Hine made earlier remarks that if all the parties couldn’t reach an agreement, he would discontinue pursuing the plan as it stands today.  

“We believe we will find a solution that ensures growth and success for St. Petersburg and will share updates as they become available,” Hine said. 

The Dali considered using Lot 3 as the site for its new parking garage as part of the expansion, but the Grand Prix uses that lot for its annual races.

The parking element of the expansion is critical, as it would generate revenue that would be used to fund the massive project. 

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