A handful of small businesses will get a chance to sell their goods on what essentially will be the front door of the new St. Pete Pier.
The city plans to include kiosks suitable for small retailers in the Market section of the Pier, near the Welcome Plaza at Bayshore Drive.
“People who can’t afford a storefront on Central Avenue, for example, but they’ve got a product that is getting traction in the community – we’re trying to advance and elevate those small businesses around town where possible,” Chris Ballestra, director of enterprise facilities, told the St. Petersburg City Council March 14.
The council approved $262,612 to fabricate and install seven kiosks. The city could add more kiosks in the future, depending on market demand.
The total cost of the Pier project now is about $84.6 million, said Tom Greene, assistant city administrator. Construction is expected to be completed in December.
The kiosks are made of high-density polyethylene that is non-corrosive and can withstand the elements. There are two leaves, a permanent leaf that is anchored to the slab and a second leaf that is a doorway on wheels. It opens and closes and will be locked when the kiosk is not in operation, said Raul Quintana, city architect.
“You have to be careful in a public space of boxes at night. When they shut down you don’t want them to not look good,” Ballestra said. “These are pre-fabricated to accept public art that can change over time. That’s another phase of the project. So when the boxes are closed, after the shops are done for the day, you have effectively an art walk through there.”
Each of the kiosks will have power and electrical outlets, and two of them will have water. They’ll be under a photovoltaic, solar roof structure that will provide shade.
The city will offer short-term leases for the kiosks, ranging from three months to 12 months, Ballestra said.
“We’re about to post three additional sessions that prospective tenants can learn about these structures —April 24, May 2 and May 8. Those will be around town, southside, westside and downtown at the Greenhouse,” he said. “We’re looking forward to further engaging the public and activating this space, as opposed to having a purely passive walk-through. The combination of active spaces and marketplaces and the ability to provide a small business opportunity for some of our local folks is something we’re really looking forward to.”
Separately, the council approved spending $1.4 million to construct the city infrastructure to support an aerial net sculpture created by fiber artist Janet Echleman that will also be at the Pier. The sculpture itself, with a cost of about $1.3 million, is funded through private donations.
Ballestra and Quintana also displayed two new renderings of the sculpture.