January 7, 2007

Old Pompano Beach Pier Easing into New Era: When Pompano Beach Celebrates Its Centennial, Its Refurbished Fishing Pier Will Boast an Entertainment Complex

By Roberto Santiago, The Miami Herald

Jan. 7--Pompano Beach Pier & Promenade VP

Larisa Valcova has been coming to the same spot on Pompano Beach's fishing pier for three years, casting her lines in search of mackerel, jack and snapper.

The idea that the city plans to renovate the pier doesn't bother Valcova, a Ukrainian immigrant -- as long as the refurbishing doesn't bother her favored fishing spot.

"Every time things are developed, the prices go up," said Valcova, 65, a retiree who arrived in Pompano Beach from Ukraine five years ago.

Right now, she pays $3 to fish and $2 weekdays to park at the 300-space lot across the street.

And she loves the peace and quiet.

"I want it to stay that way," she said.

On this day, her cooler, with ice in the bottom, harbored 11 fish, a mixture of jack and mackerel -- a good day's catch.

Valcova's peaceful slice of heaven is scheduled to get disrupted this summer, when workers break ground on the $12-million Pompano Beach Pier & Promenade.

The facility is expected to be completed in 2008 -- just in time for the city's July centennial celebration.

"I am very excited about this," said Mayor John Rayson, after seeing the plans. "I think it will be a major improvement. I think there will be something for everyone. The pier is one of the best things Pompano is known for."

But the developers don't intend to bother the 1,100-foot fishing pier located on Pompano Beach Boulevard and the ocean -- except to remodel the bait shop, and allow portable food vendors. The playground and picnic facilities off the beach also will remain the same.

The city had to shut down the pier from July through late December after a company that leased the property walked out on its lease, city officials said.

"People who fish and sunbathe and swim will be able to access the pier without a problem as we are developing," said Scott Nielsen, vice president of Pompano Beach Pier & Promenade.

Everything around the pier will go, including the old Fisherman's Wharf restaurant at 222 Pompano Beach Blvd., said company vice president Peter Donovan.


The two-story complex, called the Pompano Beach Pier & Promenade, will have upscale seafood and steak restaurants, a tiki bar, coffee and ice cream shop, boutiques, an art gallery and more.

A stylish wedding gazebo overlooking the ocean and a 250-seat banquet hall will round out the development.

"People can go from bathing suits to tuxedos," said Donovan, who envisions the pier complex as a choice spot for romantic, beach weddings and receptions.

The intent is to make the area a destination for families, sunbathers, and anglers during the day, and a perfect place for cocktails and dining at night, he said.


The time is right to make Pompano Beach both a day and an evening attraction, developers say, with condos and hotels coming to the area.

"Some of the best properties around are located at piers and they are undeveloped," Donovan said.

Other piers that gave him inspiration are ones in Dania Beach and Lake Worth.

Both Dania and Lake Worth piers are aging but have plenty of potential to become upscale attractions, he said.

"You have a beautiful beach. Why not have a beautiful pier?" Donovan said.

Nick Douglas, 14, a high school student from Pahokee, doesn't care about fancy bars or restaurants. He cares only about fishing. His parents or friends drop him off weekly for his visits.

The teen said he loves the pier, its reasonable fishing fee, the solitude, and the wisdom of his fellow -- and often considerably older -- fishermen.

And most of all, it is the only place he knows in Broward or Palm Beach County where he can catch barracuda, jack and snapper in the same sitting.

"As long as we can fish, they can build it," he shrugged.


Copyright (c) 2007, The Miami Herald

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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