Council Votes on 'Lens' Contract Thursday
At Thursday's St. Petersburg City Council meeting, the council will vote to approve a contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture for the design costs of building "The Lens".
It will not be the point of no return Thursday, but should City Council vote to approve a contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture Thursday, it is committing the first $4.69 million for the design costs of the "Lens".
If approved Thursday, the contract for the design phases would follow as.
- Phase I – Basis of Design - $557,687
- Phase II – Schematic Design $875,818
- Phase III – Design Development $1.19 million
- Phase IV – Construction Document $1.27 million
- Phase V – Construction Administration $651,303
While not the most expensive design phase, the most crucial phase, according to city documents, is Phase I.
During that phase, a process to evaluate the “Lens” concept relative to the construction cost budget will be developed. Phase I will include a public input session and council workshops to solicit input on concept refinements, the scope of upland developments and coordination of regulatory permits.
Phase I is scheduled to take five months to complete and will include a final public presentation to summarize Maltzan's findings and present the final design concept moving forward.
Also during phase I the city will hire a construction manager to oversee maximum costs and a schedule of the project. It will also issue an invitation to bid for the demolition of the existing pier.
Previously, the city has said it plans to close the pier in May 2013. According to city documents, construction on the "Lens" could begin in early 2014.
According to city documents, the underwater garden that was depicted in the competition submission will be further evaluated during phase I. Experts, the city said, will be consulted on the garden during phase I to determine its feasibility.
The design fees for the underwater garden are not included in the design contract the council is voting on Thursday.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, many local marine science experts question the feasibility of the underwater garden and that the garden component may be scrapped.
"Scientists interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times have expressed doubts about plans for the "natural aquarium," which will be built around pilings that support the current Pier."
If Michael Maltzan Architecture finds that the underwater garden can be constructed, then additional fees will be negotiated with the city to amend the contract.
On Feb. 2, the Council voted 7-1 to start contract negotiations with the Michael Maltzan Architecture team to build the "Lens." At a February meeting with council, the Maltzan architecture team met with council a laid out details about the $50 million pier.
The $4.69 million contract the council is voting on Thursday is part of the $50 million for the entire project to build the “Lens”.
Vote on the Pier?
A poll released earlier this month showed St. Pete residents had a strong dissatisfaction with "The Lens". Only 29 percent of those polled supported the city's selection of "The Lens". A majority of respondents, 58 percent, wants the city to renovate the existing inverted pyramid.
That strong dissatisfaction has led to a large petition drive, Vote on the Pier. The group is petitioning to have the public vote on the future of the pier. It wants the city to refurbish the existing pier.
Tom Lambdon, organizer for Vote on the Pier, said the group has more than 13,000 verified petitions, but 3,000 more are needed before the end of June to force a referendum on the Nov. 6 election.
To reach that 3,000, Lambdon said the group would need to collect between 5,000 and 6,000 petitions because many petitions get thrown out.
In April the group had more than 700 petitions thrown out because petitioners lived outside city limits. That issue and others have caused more petitions to be thrown out.
"Literally hundreds so far have been weeded out by us as we verify each and every petition, one-by-one, to be certain not only that they are in the database we received from the Supervisor of Elections but additionally (that) the petitions forms are legible and complete," Lambdon said in an interview with Patch.
Lambdon said plans to speak at Thursday's council meeting.
"I will also be bringing with me the more than 13,000 signed petitions we already have to date. To prove to these idiots we are coming with the required balance of necessary petitions to force them to take the earplugs out and the blinders off and listen to the people that want to have their voices heard regarding their pier."
Previously, City Attorney John Wolfe has said that even if the group gets enough signed petitions, he does not think the way the petition is worded would legally require the city to hold a vote.
"It’s just a petition ... I don’t think it (legally) requires you to do anything," Wolfe said at a February City Council workshop.
Mayor Bill Foster, however, said that while there might be no legal requirement, there certainly would be a political requirement.
"We, as elected officials, can’t ignore it," Foster said. "If they are successful, you will have to put that on the ballot."