Rotting and in Ruin: Future of Dilapidated Pinellas Pier Uncertain

Decision to demolish or rebuild likely months away

REDINGTON SHORES, Fla. — Rusting, rotting and in ruin. A historic fishing pier continues to fall apart in Pinellas County’s Redington shores and plans to fix it or tear it down are taking much longer than expected.

The Redington Long Pier, a historic staple since 1962, closed down nearly two years ago after violent storms tore apart the wooden pier leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the 1,200 square foot landmark.

Residents of Redington Shores worry all it will take is one more tropical storm or hurricane to turn the pier into a dangerous projectile. That’s why they’re desperate to see it either torn down or reconstructed.

As the state works on a plan to tear down the pier, a last ditch effort has emerged to save it. Real estate developer Ben Mallah, who’s also planning to rehab John’s Pass in Maderia Beach, wants to buy the pier and rebuild it. Yet his offer is contingent on whether or not he can rezone the property and convert the adjoining parking lot near the pier into a hotel.

Yet the process could take months. First, city leaders need to approve the zoning change, which they are expected to consider on October 3 at a 6 p.m. meeting. Next, the county commission will have to approve it, followed by state leaders before coming back to Redington Shores again for a second vote.

People who live and visit the area just hope it happens before the next big storm.

Mark Zielinski grew up coming to pier and has been visiting it since 1979.

“Until something happens it’s just going to go to waste,” he said with a sigh.

Zielinski snapped picture after picture of the destruction to the historic pier showing waves crashing into it and wiping out an entire section and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which left rusty bolts and planks scattered along the shoreline.

Sherill Desiderio, who lives near the pier, can’t believe how long it’s taken for something to be done.

“I don’t know how they could leave such an eyesore,” she explained.

“Anything that’s worth renovating or building is going to take time,” Robin Rollins, visiting the beach from Iowa, said while looking at the dilapidated pier.