Illustration: City of St. Pete Beach

“After a series of commission meetings and design changes, Chill Restaurant at 357 Corey Ave., which bills itself as an American fusion-style eatery and bar, was finally granted permission to have permanent outdoor dining using a so-called parklet.

During a hearing at the commission’s Nov. 15 meeting, debate and discussion by some residents centered around whether Chill should be able to use three or four city-owned parking spaces in front of the restaurant, as well as whether the city should use taxpayer money to defray some of the cost of building the outdoor seating area.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city granted some restaurants and bars temporary permission to offer outdoor dining, since indoor seating was restricted and not favored by patrons.

Now, with outdoor dining still gaining in popularity, the city has provided a way for restaurants and taverns to offer outdoor seating in ‘parklets’ on a permanent basis. Chill subsequently applied to feature permanent parklet seating in front of the eatery.

City Manager Alex Rey said the Chill parklet has been redesigned so the city will lose only four parking spaces instead of five…

Commissioner Mark Grill, who opposes using public funds to defray the cost of the parklet, noted the permanent parklet would cost $100,000, while the semi-permanent option would be $50,000.

With the $50,000 option, Chill would pay the $50,000, with the parklet stricture belonging to the eatery. Chill would be able to take four parking spaces for its outdoor seating and pay rent of $1,500 a month, or 10 percent of the revenue from outdoor tables, for three years of the contract.

With the $100,000 permanent option, Chill would pay $50,000 with the city making up the difference up to almost $100,000. In this scenario, the city would own the parklet.

Grill said in speaking with the city manager he was told the permanent parklet will be nicer looking and constructed with more sturdy materials. It will also include curbing with a multimodal bump-out and improved drainage.

Mayor Al Johnson added, ‘It will be aesthetically a lot better.’…

Responding to criticism by a member of the public as to why the city is giving a private business an interest-free loan with taxpayer money, Johnson said, ‘This is like any public-private partnership. We’re creating an asset for the city, partially paid for by the client and partially by us, and it’s going to be an income-generating asset, so I don’t see a problem with it.’…

After discussion, the commission voted 3-1 to give permission for Chill Restaurant to install a permanent outdoor dining parklet, with Grill casing a dissenting vote and commissioner Melinda Pletcher absent.”


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