The new Crabby’s Dockside restaurant will replace the Original Tiki Bar at
the City Marina. Surrounded by water on three sides, the building is sure to
become a landmark that attracts locals and tourists alike.
homes are close to $600,000, condos in the $400s to high $700s.
Apartments will range from $1400 to $1900 a month rent.
“Every project I build, I have a place to live in. I’m not just
an out-of-town developer making a buck out of Fort Pierce.
(Living here) gives you a different perspective, a different
level if you build it for yourself.”
Matteson said he is “excited beyond words to be selected as
the master developer. (Fort Pierce) is a diamond in the rough.
I believe we’ll be viewed as being really smart to have done
this. Fort Pierce is certainly ready for a growth spurt. It’s (a
place) ready to take off. We’re ecstatic about this opportunity.
I just wish we were moving dirt today!”
The final cost to build King’s Landing is expected to be
around $85 million, including $15-20 million for the hotel.
Fort Pierce has never had such an economic shot in the arm
and many smaller business owners are hoping to ride the
wave of prosperity King’s Landing will bring.
Gary Hardie is one of the principals of a company that
operates 10 casual waterfront restaurants throughout Central
Florida. The chain began in the Tampa area, but has expanded
to Kissimmee and Daytona Beach.
Hardie was born and raised in Fort Pierce. He attended
school at St. Anastasia and John Carroll. He left the area when
he went to college and has since settled in the Tampa area.
Yet over the years, he’s stayed in touch with Fort Pierce
through his family, who still live in the city. Hardie said he’s
excited about a sense of new direction in recent years.
He is convinced the proposed King’s Landing development
will be a major game-changer for the city. “There are no hotels
downtown. I think it will bring a lot of new businesses to the
city. While I think there’s a great atmosphere in Fort Pierce, a
lot of (outside) people have never heard of the place, or know
very little about it. King’s Landing could change all that.
“It will definitely bring new people here, especially as they
are talking with Marriott, and that will help Crabby’s.”
Crabby’s is building a new restaurant on the site of the
Original Tiki Bar at the City Marina. The site is surrounded
on three sides by water, so it has presented some challenges,
Hardie said. It’s necessitated a slower, more deliberative approach
in building it, especially the foundations.
“Even getting materials to the site proved challenging, but
working with contractor Paul Jacquin & Sons has been great.
They are doing a great job.
“The new building is very solid — it’s built like a tank. It’s
somewhere I’d go if a hurricane comes! Building codes have
been very tough, being on the water. The exposed site does
mean the design is a little less open than we wanted originally.
“We are building the place and then leasing the land from
the city. City officials have been very helpful. In fact, we
had the entire construction project and permitting done in
advance. That will minimize the city’s revenue loss of lease
income. It will also allow the building to be completed faster
and that means we can put people back to work quicker. A
lot of employees lost their jobs when the Tiki closed and we
want to allow them the opportunity to work for us.
“We are expecting to open in May or June, or even a little
sooner. Other than the deeper foundations we were required
to use, everything else has gone perfectly; we’ve had no delays.
It’s going unbelievable.”
Hardie expects the new restaurant will employ around
100 people and will seat about 250 customers — double the
capacity of the previous building.
“We will concentrate on seafood and have a brick pizza
oven. Our emphasis will be on high-quality, freshly made and
locally sourced ‘beachy’ cuisine.
“Our signature dish will be Bairdi crab from Alaska. It’s
sweeter than regular crab. We can grill, steam it. We are constantly
tweaking the menu for individual locations.”
Hardie hasn’t lived permanently in Fort Pierce since 1988.
He’s seen a lot of changes — some good, some not so much
— since he left the city.
“Growing up here I didn’t realize just what a small place it
was,” he said. “I’ve seen lots of stores closing over the years
— Kmart, places downtown. These days, you can’t even buy
a pair of shoes in Fort Pierce. I compare that with my experience
in Tampa. It’s a much bigger place, but the pace of
change has been astronomical. Traffic is unreal.
“I believe growth follows civic leadership. In the past, some
people (inside and outside city hall) in Fort Pierce didn’t
want any change. They feared it. But the city needs to create
opportunities for new people coming into the city or for those
wanting to stay.
“We’ve got to grow and find new opportunities for our
kids. Too many have been forced to move away to find decent
jobs. We need to keep expanding the college and bring in
“The new hotel will help a lot of people — imagine the
positive effect it will have on the Sunrise Theatre — allowing
people to see a show and spend the night here.
“Some people still fight change, but we have much better
leaders today than we’ve had in a long time — especially
“I don’t want to go crazy with new growth and change, but
I am encouraged by the city’s attitude to our project. Getting
things approved has been much easier than in some other
municipalities we’ve worked in. The city seems to be on the
right track. New development breeds more development and
“I’d love to see more retail in Fort Pierce. They need to clean
up US 1 and get rid of some of those old, empty stores. The
mega-yacht facility will help. I’d like to see that help reverse
the trend of out-migration we’ve seen in Fort Pierce. Renovation
of residential areas near downtown would help, too.
“And I’d like to see more charter boats come back to Fort >>