A photo of palm trees in silhouette with a pink sunrise in background.

Many residents noticed that last year’s Hurricane Ian brought down several of the medjool date palms along Coffee Pot Bayou. The popular winding promenade was already patchy as storms and other factors have felled at least 16 of the majestic palms since they were planted more than 20 years ago. But there’s good news for fans of the exotic trees: The city of St. Pete has plans to restore them to their frond-ish glory. 

Brian Eichler, assistant director of St. Pete’s Parks and Rec department, says that the city will replant. “The city is in the process of receiving quotes for replacement of the palms and reviewing the current conditions of the areas that the trees were planted in to make sure they are suitable for replanting,” he said. “Once we receive quotes and assessment of the area we will have a better idea on how best to move forward.”

A photo of a palm tree downed across a seawall and dock.
Old palm trees fall victim to Hurricane Ian on Coffee Pot Bayou. Photo by Arin Greenwood.

About that “reviewing current conditions” part of his answer: Eichler wants to make sure the current holes will offer the palms enough stability so they can take root in their new neighborhood. “Palms have small root balls,” he said, “so we want to make sure if the city makes another investment in these trees, the area will hold them secure moving forward.”

How much of an investment? Eichler said mature medjool date palms cost between five and six thousand dollars per tree, and the city intends to replace the palms kind for kind to keep a uniform look. While medjool date palms are native to arid north Africa and the Middle East, they can also grow well in our tropical climate. 

“If the soil is suitable and funding available,” Eichler said, “our intent would be to replace in kind. I’m not sure why the city originally went with medjools instead of native palms. We are looking to replace in kind to be consistent along the corridor.”

As for when people will once again see the graceful dancing palm fronds swaying in the sea breeze? That’s still up in the air. “There is no timeline currently,” Eichler said, “until we receive the cost and analysis of the holes is completed.”