What the Hell Is Going on with South Pointe Pier?

Pier - Angle 3.JPG
For over a decade, Miamians have watched and wondered about what's going to happen to the South Pointe Pier. It's tragically similar to the local Cuban situation: just sit and wait and see when they'll open the border and let us back in. Likewise, it has been so long that--for many of us at least--the energetic demand has dwindled to a simple, disillusioned curiosity.

As a matter of fact, nothing, in the last 15 years, has been more emblematic of the generation gap in Miami than the closing of the pier. If you walk through Concourse F of Miami International Airport, you'll see an exhibition of nostalgic, black-and-white--and not half-bad in this blog's opinion--photographs, dated by subject matter such as kids waiting to jump from the pier's railing. Now, with a whole generation soon getting ready for high school that has never set foot on it, we started to get curious again, and wanted to find out once and for all what the hell's going on with that thing.


Pier - Angle 1.JPG
"American cities are concentrated on main streets," said Rick Lopez, an architect who grew up here in the city, as we chatted one night over beers. "We don't really have plazas. South Pointe was like a plaza for young people from all over town, and the pier itself was central to the activity."

We began by calling the Miami Beach building department, who told us to call the public works department, who then told us to call the engineering department (of public works), where someone mentioned that he'd heard talk amongst property management a year or two back about fixing the pier before telling us to call the Capital Improvement Office (CIP), which was the department that had handled the park.

"The pier was supposed to be repaired as part of the same contract as the park," explained Miami Beach public information officer Nannette Rodriguez. "The contract with the designer was terminated after the park was completed, but before they started construction on the pier."

The doors to South Pointe Park opened to the public in 2009, and by then, next to the park's trimmed dunes and stylish lighting, it seemed safe to assume that the splintered pier had been abandoned all together.

In Miami Beach City Hall, however, steps were being taken (albeit at a very bureaucratic pace). In 2005, it was approved as a component of the South Pointe Park Project. In 2007, five conceptual design options were reviewed, of which the Committee preferred one that would retain the pier's existing footprint. Then, in 2008, two more designs were proposed: an update for the preferred plan (nicknamed "Guppy"), and an another, alternate plan ("Whale"). The last conceptual design--the one that was finally approved--was a telescoping pattern that would widen with each consecutive platform.
    
Then came the break in contract, and now, with the termination still in litigation, a committee is evaluating requests for qualifications from new firms with the condition that the proposal adheres to the last conceptual design, but we were assured that city hall is as anxious as us.

"It is expected that an open design process will take place in the next few weeks,"  Rodriguez said, "but it's not known for sure."

So, as the world keeps spinning and politicians keep running it, what does all this mean for us? Really just one thing: whenever construction is complete, it seems we'll finally be looking at a new telescopic pier, complete with fishing amenities and geriatric rest spots.

But some of the bigger questions cannot be answered so easily: Will the pier see the same vitality and culture that it spawned a decade and a half ago, or has too much time passed? Will kids be just as free to jump from it as they were? Or here's a less redundant one: Is the selected design--the "Telescope"--the one you would have picked? And finally the obvious one: Do we really expect to see the damn thing anytime soon?

-- Joshua Abril


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4 comments
Seer
Seer

Apparently there was a ground breaking ceremony 2/12/2013 for starting construction on new pier, so maybe in a year or two we will  be able to enjoy  its amenities.

Seer
Seer

This pier would be used by so many people  and the Commissioners  ignore this and only listen  and  pander to small but powerful special interests, e.g the dog lobby.   This 16 acre park has a 34,000 square foot unleashed dog park right in the middle of it. After over 900  recorded complaints they  have  decided to spend money to fence that area in , and the Tot Lot too for safety and hygiene reasons.What is coherent in that half- baked  "policy"? Is that a people first policy?   Where is the money for the fishermen  ? They are not a rich constituency so their needs are neglected, witness that poor sad pier for all to judge  what goes on in Miami Beach City hall.

guest
guest

Hello, can you get an update please. It's been well over a year since you posted this. Thank you!

Robkabob21
Robkabob21

I thought I was the only one interested/concerned about the fate of the pier! Every trip to the beach as a kid, I'd make a point to jump off the pier with friends and family. So many fun memories tied to this pier. Now it really makes me sad when I see the locked gates and "closed pier" signs.. Thanks for the update!!

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