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A New St. Pete Pier Design Up for Vote

WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2015

By Jill M. Speegle


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Residents in St. Petersburg, FL, may soon see their 42-year-old iconic waterfront landmark replaced after more than 10 years of debate and one previously unsuccessful attempt.

The City Council is expected to vote Thursday (May 7) on a design top-ranked by the city's Pier Selection Committee.

Pier Park
All images: City of St. Petersburg

City council members in St. Petersburg, FL, will vote on whether to replace the current inverted pyramid pier with a park design.

Pier Park, designed by the ASD of Tampa and Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers, features ample green space, bike and walking trails, multiple decks, a restaurant, and a promenade leading to the new building.

A pier has been the centerpiece of the city’s downtown waterfront since its beginnings as a fishing village in the 1800s.

The Rankings

The $46 million Pier Park project beat out two other designs, including Destination St. Pete Pier, proposed by the St. Pete Design Group.

Destination was the only design to renovate the existing inverted pyramid pier, and it was actually the favorite in a city-led, non-binding online survey earlier this year.

Destination

Supporters of the Destination design like that it renovates the existing structure.

Residents are expected to implore the council members to reject Pier Park in favor of Destination during the City Council meeting.

The third-ranked design was the Alma Project by Alfonso Architects of Tampa.

Details on the three top concepts, including video presentations, are available here.

Picking a Pier

Replacing St. Petersburg’s inverted pyramid pier, which first opened in 1973, has been a hot topic among residents and city officials for more than a decade.

Alma design

The third-ranked design was the Alma Project by Alfonso Architects of Tampa.

The city has posted a brief history of the pier on its website, newstpetepier.com.

According to the city, the structural maintenance for the existing pier was deemed in 2004 to be no longer cost effective, per a report to City Council.

In 2011, the city decided to hold an international design competition that drew 29 submissions.

A jury of design professionals and elected officials eventually selected “The Lens,” designed by Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture Inc., as the replacement pier and entered into a contract with the architect.

The Lens Defeated

Many residents were not keen on that decision, however, and rallied against the design.

After a successful petition, a group called “Stop the Lens” was able to get a measure on the Aug. 27, 2013, ballot to cancel the city’s contract with the architect.

It passed, and the city parted ways with Maltzan after spending $4 million in the process.

Mayor Moves Forward

In January 2014, the city’s newly elected mayor, Rick Kriseman, began moving forward on a new pier.

He appointed a Pier Selection Committee that invited new concepts designed to meet the desires of the community.  

The Lens

The Lens was a new design for the pier that was killed by a 2013 voter referendum initiated by a group called “Stop the Lens.”

On April 23, 2015, the committee issued its final three rankings based on several state-mandated criteria, including the design itself, public input, design team background and technical review.

New Pier, ETA 2018?

In a statement on the committee's selection, Mayor Kriseman said, "We established a pier process that citizens on every side of this issue agreed would result in a fair and objective decision.”

“I am proud that we have stayed true to that process and that it has been transparent and open to the public throughout.”

The mayor said he looked forward to the day when a ribbon is cut on the new St. Petersburg Pier, which reports say could be 2018 if negotiations with the first-ranked team proceed.

However, should the council reject Pier Park, the entire process could start over.

And even if it is accepted by the council, some residents say they stand ready to repeat history, sending Pier Park the way of The Lens.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.

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Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architecture; Building design; Design; Government; Historic Preservation; Public spaces; Urban Planning

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