COCOA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time in 50 years, the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier is under new ownership, purchased by the CEO of Westgate Resorts and one of his longtime business associates.
The new owners told Channel 9 they now see themselves as the caretakers of the Cocoa Beach landmark, and their plan is to restore it to its glory days.
Gary Hibbard moved to Brevard County a year after the pier was built by Richard Stottler Jr. Hibbard said he even worked at the pier himself 19 years ago, and he's among those who think its sale may be a good thing.
"They've got some money to spend, and I think they'll do some nice improvements," he said of the new owners.
CEO David Siegel and his longtime business associate , Jim Gissy , plan to spend millions on improvements at the pier.
In addition to a facelift with updated restrooms, the owners plan to expand the pier, which would allow the partners to increase the size of the retail and dining areas.
"If you look at the pier, it's not a bad one," said visitor Dan Wilcox. "But it's starting to look aged. If you spice it up, you're going to bring more people along."
And that's exactly what Cocoa Beach Mayor Dave Netterstrom is hoping.
"From what I'm hearing, they have thousands of time shares in the Orlando area and these families that go to those want to go to the beach," he said.