A full decade after it closed to the public, Miami Beach's South Pointe Park Pier is finally set to reopen later this week. The 100-year-old pier has been totally rebuilt after a yearlong, $4.8 million project and offers views of South Beach, Government Cut, and the downtown skyline.
The renovations -- which include new viewing stations, shade structures, turtle-safe lighting, entry gates, and pedestrian plazas -- also mean a new chapter for a place legendary to decades of Miami teenagers as a spot to hang out and illegally dive into the water.
"I'm delighted to see this landmark pier come back," said Paul George, a historian at HistoryMiami. "It was the hangout of all hangouts for decades, and it was sad to see it let go for years."
The pier, which was originally built in the 1920s a couple of blocks north, was demolished in 1984. It was then moved south to its current location, where it became a favorite spot for kids in South Beach.
According to George, the pier helped solidify South Beach as a hot spot in the late '70s, when the Beach was still gaining fame as an art deco district. Even before then, the pier was at the center of many Miami Beach-hosted events during World War II.
For youths and other beachgoers, the pier was a place to fish, eat, and dive with friends into the ocean, hoping the local cops didn't notice.
"It allowed for the area to look like a bay or beach in California," George says. "Everything was surrounding the pier, whether it was hot dogs or Joe's Stone Crab, a mainstay."
In its earlier years, the pier was also located near the Miami Beach Kennel Club, another SoBe hot spot until its closing in 1980.
The pier did, however, lose momentum in the late '80s till its closing in 2004. Since then, the pier had been shuttered without any hope of reopening until the winter of 2012. That's when city officials decided they wanted to restore the fading fishing location.
This project is a part of an ongoing revitalization effort on the southern end of the beach. In 2009, South Pointe Park, a 30-year-old public park next to the pier, also received a complete revamping with extensive eco-friendly landscaping to beautify the area.
City officials and George himself hope it revitalizes the southernmost point of the Beach as it did for decades.
"This pier just has layers and layers of history," George says. "It's a great place, and I'm sure it's going to attract a lot of people the way it has for decades."
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A grand opening for the pier is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and will include art displays, giveaways, and refreshments for visitors.