Construction begins on pier buildings

Construction begins on pier buildings
The new bait shop building looked like this at the end of the Thursday, Oct. 10 workday. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The construction of the new Anna Maria City Pier bait shop began this week with Mason Martin Builders erecting the first bait shop wall on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, Mayor Dan Murphy provided the city commission with an update that included photographs of the new bait shop being built on the new pier’s T-end.

Construction of Anna Maria City Pier buildings begins
The first bait shop walls went up on Tuesday, Oct. 8. – Scott Moore | Submitted

Murphy said he, Public Works Manager Dean Jones and Building Official Luke Curtis took a tour of the pier earlier that day and the construction of the new restaurant building had not yet begun.

“We’re making some great progress. This building is really sound, it’s over-engineered. When I compare to what we saw with the old pier, this is really something. It’s a monument to stability,” he said.

Construction of Anna Maria City Pier buildings begins
The new bait shop is now under construction. – City of Anna Maria | Submitted

When asked, Murphy said the installation of the pier decking should be completed in early November, including the section of the pier damaged by the Sept. 10 barge accident involving i+iconSoutheast’s construction barge.

Murphy said Mason Martin Builders will install the Ipe decking at the T-end of the pier.

Cleaning and oversight

Commissioner Doug Copeland commented on the bird droppings visible on the pier decking in one of the photos and asked how the city plans to deal with that issue once the pier is finished and opened to the public.

Commissioner Dale Woodland noted the city of Bradenton Beach pressure-washes its pier on a regular basis, once a week.

“It’s an issue,” Murphy said, noting that pressure-washing was already scheduled for the current week and the following week.

He also predicted there will be fewer birds on the pier once the public is using it again.

“The wood is so beautiful. When we finally open it, I want people to be able to appreciate that beautiful wood that we chose to build this pier. It’s so impressive,” Murphy said of the Ipe hardwood decking.

Construction of Anna Maria City Pier buildings begins
Mayor Dan Murphy is already formulating plans on how to keep the new pier clean and well-maintained. – City of Anna Maria | Submitted

The mayor then presented the commission with an idea for future consideration – the creation of a pier oversight board that would include a mix of city residents and perhaps others who possess expertise in finance, development and other skills related to the oversight of a city-owned pier.

“They would advise the commission on maintaining the viability of the pier and taking care of it on a continuing basis,” Murphy said, noting that other cities utilize similar advisory boards.

“The pier is probably the single biggest asset this city owns. If you include the land and the buildings and everything else, you’re probably looking at about $12 million. That’s a huge asset,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he would present the commission with a more formal proposal early next year.

Taking into account the delays caused in September by the potential approach of Hurricane Dorian and then the barge accident, Murphy recently estimated the pier walkway and T-end decking would be open to the public in late January or early February. He anticipates the pier being open to the public while the interior buildout of the restaurant and bait shop continues toward completion.

Pier lease update

Murphy also provided the commission with an update on his ongoing pier lease discussions with current pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder. Schoenfelder’s current lease expires in December 2020 and he has expressed interest in a new long-term lease that would maintain his previous pier-based bait shop and restaurant operations.

“I met with Mr. Schoenfelder this week. We had a very cordial meeting, exchanging information back and forth,” Murphy said.

“Mr. Schoenfelder is going to provide us with his take on rent by next week. When I have that in hand, I would like to ask you for an emergency meeting so that we could consider it. I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep this lease situation open for a lengthy period of time. We’re at a critical point. Based upon what Mr. Schoenfelder’s offer might be, I think it would be good that we consider it as quickly as possible. As soon as I get that information, I will send that to you and then ask the chair to consider having an emergency meeting so we can discuss it and vote on whether it’s acceptable or not,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Schoenfelder have also recently discussed the possibility of the city leasing him designated parking spaces at and near the pier. They have also discussed the shared maintenance of the pier facilities and the tenant’s insurance and property tax responsibilities.