Let's polish that pyramid to shine

A St. Petersburg City Council member has proposed illuminating the Pier's landmark to make for brilliant nights.

Published June 14, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - While the city debates the long-term future of the Pier - namely, whether to replace the 33-year-old inverted pyramid - City Council member John Bryan is pushing a temporary fix.

This week, the council is expected to approve Bryan's plan to purchase new outdoor lighting for the iconic upside down structure.

The lighting, which costs $187,000, will illuminate the glass pyramid an array of colors at night.

Bryan, who has seen the lighting program while visiting New York, said the lights can turn an absolutely pedestrian block building into a spectacle. He expects similar results at the Pier.

"For a small amount of money, we can make the Pier just as spectacular as everything else on the waterfront," Bryan said.

The lighting can change colors in a moment and displays can be timed for the season, the day, or just the mood. Funding is available through unused money from the Florida Department of Transportation.

"When you're out there at night, imagining what can be done - it can be really incredible," council member Jeff Danner said.

The lighting can also be moved, meaning it could light the Mahaffey Theater or other city buildings if the need arises, or if the inverted pyramid is one day replaced.

Council members are currently considering how to spend $50-million earmarked for Pier improvements.

Parts of the approach and base are corroded and cracked and need to be repaired. But there is also some discussion about replacing the 1973 pyramid structure with something more timeless.

While those talks evolve, council members see new lighting as a good temporary solution.

"This is an attraction within an attraction for a very reasonable amount of money," council member Rick Kriseman said.

If approved Thursday, city officials expect the lighting to be in place by the end of the year.

Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 892-2273 or asharockman@sptimes.com.