Seventeen local small businesses will be spotlighted in The Marketplace, one of the first areas visitors will see at the new St. Pete Pier. The small businesses will occupy seven kiosks and 10 tents under a solar roof structure that provides shade just a few feet away from the Pier entrance. Each of the kiosks is painted to replicate part of a downtown St. Petersburg mural, with a sign posted to let visitors know where they can view the full mural. The vendors will sell merchandise ranging from clothing to jewelry to packaged foods such as sauces and mixes, said Carol Everson, enterprise facilities department assistant director.
“We’ve got folks who are going to be here who are very diverse in what they are selling and who they are,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman at a media preview Sunday night. “That’s what St. Pete is all about; it’s all about the small businesses. It’s a great opportunity for somebody who otherwise couldn’t afford brick and mortar, to have a place where they can sell their wares and really start creating something special.”
For many of the vendors, the presence at the Pier is a big part of their business plan, Everson said. “We really wanted to work with the local vendors and give them an opportunity to have a place to show what they can do. They’re very excited about being here and think the Pier is a great place. For some of them, this is to start their businesses, and some have been in business for a while and this is a new location,” Everson said. The Marketplace will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Current tenants can stay for one year.
“If things go well, they can have an opportunity to stay longer or if there is natural attrition there will be an opportunity for other vendors,” Everson said. “We hope the program is so successful that we can add more vendors and maybe more than just Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We’re hoping it’s going to be a great success.” The Marketplace is one part of the economic development that Kriseman said the new Pier will spark for St. Petersburg. The former Pier, which closed just over seven years ago, drew about 300,000 visitors a year.
“Certainly once we get past the pandemic and people are comfortable coming out in larger numbers, we wouldn’t be surprised to see one million people a year visit,” Kriseman said. “The big difference is going to be that for the old Pier, the people who came to visit were tourists and typically the only time a local went was maybe if they were going to be the Columbia [Restaurant] or they had somebody visiting.
“I think this is going to be a place where locals are going to hang out. I think this is going to be our Central Park. I think people are going to want to hang out here because it’s a beautiful place to relax, read a book, enjoy the environment, have something to eat, cool down in the summer in the splash pad. So I think it’s going to be great.”
The finished project cost about $92 million.
“Truthfully, if we were doing it today, I’d hate to see what the price tag would be because I think it would be a whole lot more than that,” Kriseman said. “The bottom line is, is this an amenity the community loves? And if it is, it’s worth every penny.”
The new Pier opens at 5 p.m. today (Monday, July 6). From Monday through Sunday, July 12, reservations are required to maintain capacity and optimal social distancing. Make reservations here.
Related story: Color the new St. Pete Pier green.