Williams Park, one of downtown St. Pete’s biggest spaces for live events, may soon be getting a much-needed facelift. In a plan totaling nearly $1.5 million, St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation has put together a proposal to restore the park’s stage to its former glory and bring big acts and events to the green-space performance venue.
The entire facility on the north end of Williams Park sprawls nearly 6,000 square feet, including 3,800 square feet of stage space. The proposed plan is two-fold, calling first for much-needed maintenance, and then for facility upgrades to modernize the venue. With several area organizations already on board, the hope is to bring more – and bigger – events to the downtown hub.
The maintenance portion of the plan calls for roughly $850,000 in repairs to the nearly 70 year old bandshell and its surrounding structure. A new roof for the bandshell is the focal point of the proposal, as the existing roof panels are 24 years old and in need of replacement after those decades of sun damage.
While the plan also calls for some TLC on the exterior – pressure washing, painting, steel treatment and crack repair – significant improvements are being called for in the interior spaces. Specifically, current drywall needs to be removed and replaced on the walls and roof, doors and frames need to be replaced, and the electrical system needs to be upgraded and replaced.
Plan paves way for big acts and events
As for the facility upgrades – accounting for just under half of the proposed budget – Parks and Recreation sees these upgrades as a chance to make the venue more desirable to local performance companies as well as traveling acts. In addition to modernization including needed ADA improvements, the department is calling for significant upgrades to the sound system, lighting system, acoustic paneling and overall power capabilities.
A boon for performers, the plan asks for big improvements to the back of house too, including ramped up power capability, air conditioning and a restroom facility.
Official news on the upgrades won’t come along until later this year when the budget is voted on and the Parks and Recreation Department is able to start exploring options for financing. Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Bryan Eichler, who has been instrumental in developing the plan, will continue working with City Council and the City at large to bring the proposal to life.
While nothing is official, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Gina Driscoll has expressed enthusiasm for the proposed renovations.
“Williams Park and its iconic bandshell are celebrated for their role in some of the most significant moments in St. Petersburg’s history,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see the strong support for Williams Park from residents, businesses, and our arts community. Our collective passion and commitment to these improvements will result in many more years of making history in this beautiful space.”
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