Anthony Sullivan: 'Lens' Supporters Need to Speak Up

Sullivan said the "Lens" can be an iconic landmark for the entire region, similar to the Arch in St. Louis.

Anthony Sullivan, the national TV pitchman for products such as OxiClean, wants you to speak up about the "Lens". 

The Tampa Bay area resident recently hit up one of his favorite things to do in St. Petersburg, the Saturday Morning Market. There he saw people with red shirts getting people to sign a petition to "Stop the Lens." The "Lens" is the design slated to replace the St. Petersburg Pier. 

Sullivan saw the shirts and became angry. No one, he said, was speaking up in favor of the "Lens".

"Honestly it was a call for action," Sullivan said of "Lens" protesters. "The lens needs a voice and seemingly no one involved directly in the project were promoting it.

Two days ago Sullivan launched a Facebook page and Twitter account, WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete. Sullivan said no one affiliated with the city or Michael Maltzan Architecture, the firm who designed the "Lens", has hired him or asked him to support the "Lens". 

"My goal right now, even (though) some residents and people are very angry at me, I just want to be a positive voice for the 'Lens'," Sullivan said in an interview with Patch. "It’s only my opinion. It’s a lot better than what’s there now." 

On the page, Sullivan has been posting iconic structures — St. Louis Arch, Sydney Opera House, Seattle Space Needle, the London Eye — from around the world that he said were not all received warmly at the beginning and took a vision to be created. 

Sullivan said despite what his newfound critics say, he is not against a public vote on the issue, he is just pro "Lens". He cannot force the city to hold a referendum, he said. 

"Anything new always has detractors or haters," he said. "I think St. Petersburg needs a shot in the arm. It’s been getting some really good shorts in the arm (lately) and this could be the icing on the cake."

Sullivan said if you support the "Lens" now is the time to say so.  

"If you like the 'Lens' speak up," Sullivan said. "Don't let it be steamrolled over. People seem to think I’m anti-democracy. I would just like people who like of the idea of the 'Lens' to come out, speak up and get into conservation."


JDMcC October 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I agree wholeheartedly, L. Well said. And unlike NAW, who seems to have a penchant for making unsubstantiated assertions about the background knowledge and motives of those with whom he/she disagrees, I do not see any evidence whatsoever that you "fear" a vote on this. Rather, you have simply indicated what amounts to a legal fact of life in societies governed by elected officials according to (small-"r") republican legal principles. You are 100% correct, L. We do not, in fact, have any legal "right" to vote in a referendum on everything that happens in our city with respect to development. There is nothing in the U.S. or State constitutions - nor in any state, county or municipal statute currently on the books in this particular jurisdiction -which confers upon the citizenry any such right. As such, any contrary claim in that regard is inherently specious. Yes, there is a constitutional right (in the 1st Amendment) to voice our opinions and petition the government for a redress of grievances, but that's as far as it goes. Tough luck, but that's the law.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Honestly, I have nothing against you. It is well known that the waterfront in St.Pete is supposed to be protected by referendum. I don't care really about the outcome of such a vote, as long as it's voted on. To me, it's very simple: A yes or no vote on the pier that we have. If people vote yes, then we rehab it and bring it into the future. If people vote no, then we demolish it, and build new. This is fair, and would have the taxpaying voters behind it. I believe this was the step that council skipped over that caused this mess. Don't forget, the TIF funding was specifically for a refurbishment, until Foster and crew changed the usage of the funding. Rick Baker put together a refurbishment plan together in 2005, why wasn't everyone up in arms then? The reason it's 50 million in the first place is because it's refurbishment money, which is not enough for a complete demolition and rebuild to be done properly. That's why the lens had to be scaled back, and every single final design was over budget....those guys had to somehow squeeze something that would satisfy the public into money that was meant for a refurbishment. I think the retail should be removed from the pier building itself, and put onto the approach, to open the building floors up for the community to decide what goes in there.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Cont- I think there should be no traffic on the approach to keep the oil and rubber, etc out of the bay. I think all the tenants should pay market rents. The reason they aren't now is that the city is downmarketing the place. They cut advertising, are not promoting it, and rarely include it in big crowd functions. They want it gone, so why promote it? That's understandable..why promote something you want rid of? So they are giving the tenants a break as they are put out of business, that's also understandable. But with a new retail section, there would be no reason to give them a break on the rents...which amount to 1.3 to 1.5 million a year. Yes, I agree with St.Petersburg Preservation that the architecture should be saved, as well as the jobs and businesses...it's a part of our history, and it certainly shouldn't be demolished without a vote. The 6 dollar a year subsidy helps create a 74 million a year impact on the entire county...I'm not making this up, this comes from an impact study done by the city(google The Klages Report St.Petersburg Pier) A vote would get everyone behind whatever the outcome would be, because democracy would have been served.
beichler October 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Also L, I believe N.A.W is a Pier tenant.
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