Demolition of the Redington Long Pier is nearly complete, the latest volley in a contentious battle between the owner of the historic structure and the Redington Shores Town Commission.
The 1,200-foot wooden fishing pier, built by developer Charles Redington in 1962, was deemed unsafe by Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2007.
Repairs were made at that time, and the structure remain opened for business. But wind and weather tore away at it, leading owner Tony Antonius to voluntarily shut the pier down after 2017’s Hurricane Irma dealt the death blow.
In October 2019, the commission voted 4 to 1 to deny a land-use change, required so that developers could build a 120-room, nine-story hotel on the pier property, at 17490 Gulf Blvd.
The land use would have changed from recreation open space to resort facility.
Antonius still owns the property, a one-acre parking lot. “We submitted for a hotel,” Antonius said Tuesday morning, “and they said that’s not compatible. So they want us to submit for condos.”
The pier, meanwhile, continued to crumble and fall, board by board, into the Gulf of Mexico. Although the structure was privately owned, it was technically on state land (Antonius paid $6,000 annually in “water lease” fees).
In December, DEP began to solicit bids for its demolition.
“We tried our best,” Antonius said. “And we got somebody who wanted to save it – I had a developer who wanted to spend $21 million to develop the area, and make it a two-story pier. I don’t know how they can pass up something like that.”
In 2018, Antonius – a tax accountant – told the Catalyst he and several investors purchased the pier and property in 2000 for $1.5 million.
“I underestimated the expense needed to save it,” he said at the time. “I thought once I fixed the pier, everything was going to be fine. But it was constant construction. I kept taking loan after loan after loan. I put in everything I had – and my close friends and clients’ money, too.”
A spokeswoman for the Redington Shores Town Commission declined to comment for this story.