'Lens' Public Meetings Set
Mayor Bill Foster announced today that the Pier meetings will be June 7, 12, 14 and 19.
Last week the St. Petersburg City Council approved the first contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture for the design of the Lens, which will replace the Pier. Before the next step, the city and Maltzan will collect more feedback from the public on the refinement of the project
Friday, Mayor Bill Foster announced four public meetings on the Lens design:
- Thursday, June 7: 6 p.m., Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.
- Tuesday, June 12: 6 p.m., Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S.
- Thursday, June 14: 6 p.m. J.W. Cate Center, 5801 22nd Ave. N.
- Tuesday, June 19: Lake Vista Center, 1401 62nd Ave. S.
According to the city, these meetings will be held in advance of Michael Maltzan's visit to St. Petersburg to meet with City Council and project and community leaders in August.
In this week's "Mayor Bill Foster's Weekly Forecast," Foster explains the city's thinking about why the new design is a better option than refurbishing the existing Pier.
He talks about the weakening pier approach and pier head, which city engineers have said need to be replaced due to cracks in the foundation.
Even if the city were to replace The Pier approach and Pier Head, we would be left with a 40-year-old building, which drains city dollars through $1.5 million in annual subsidies and would require expensive renovations. Floors 1, 2 and 3, due to their awkward size and layout, cannot command sufficient revenue to be self-sustaining.
And while we all enjoy dinner at the Columbia or Cha Cha Coconut's on floors 4 and 5, operating a restaurant 1/4 of a mile out into the water is not efficient. The Pier's new design calls for 6,000 sq. ft. of retail at the land's edge on The Hub, which is a more suitable place for a dining establishment.
Public support for the Lens is not strong. The group Vote on the Pier says it is close to obtaining the necessary 16,000 verified petitions; organizers say they currently have more than 13,000, to force a referendum on the pier.
At last week's council meeting, more than three-quarters of the citizens who spoke opposed the new design. Earlier this month, StPetePolls released results of a new poll that showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the city's selection of the Lens design. A majority of respondents, 58 percent, want the city to renovate the existing inverted pyramid.
The Lens was the most popular selection during a public voting process to choose among designs titled Lens, Wave or Eye.
While the majority of those who voted online or at the St. Petersburg Museum of History were in favor of the Lens, the design included a draw bridge to the Vinoy, a water park and even an amphitheater. Those items, along with other extras, do not fall in line with the $50 million budget the city has for the Lens. Those extras, which the council said are not happening, would cost an additional $100 million.