After meeting with city leaders and reviewing the final three proposals for the new St. Petersburg Pier, the Council of Neighborhood Associations (or CONA) has made its final remarks and recommendations.
While the group did not select a favorite, it did recommend against selecting the People's Pier, also known as the Eye.
"While the Eye also has its strengths we do not believe it is the best fit for our waterfront because of its extreme length and the proposed new 'Mangrove Coast,'" the group wrote in its report. "We do not find the proposed Eye Pier building as aesthetically appealing as its competitors."
The group also said it did not approve of the process of choosing a new pier. According to the group's report:
"It is disappointing that there are only three proposals to consider and that all of these are of contemporary style. We would have hoped that the international pier design competition would have generated at least one Mediterranean Revival style design to be considered as a complement to the Vinoy and other signature downtown Mediterranean Revival style architecture.
Also, the time frame and opportunity for public input has been very limited especially considering the intervening holiday season, making it especially difficult for many businesses and community organizations such as CONA to provide meaningful input. The community would have greatly benefited from a public hearing after release of the proposals in advance of the jury recommendation ..."
On Nov. 30, 2011 the to the public for the first time. Then from Dec. 6 to 28 the public had the opportunity to at St. Petersburg Museum of History.
The public could comment on each pier design and their comments will be sent to the pier jury for consideration.
Council member Steve Kornell spoke briefly on the process at Wednesday night's Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting.
He said the public still has two opportunities for input. On Feb. 2 a first reading of city staff's recommendation for the pier will be held. During that meeting, the public can comment on the pier. The public can also comment directly before the issue is on the agenda.
Kornell also said the public can have its say on Feb. 16 when there will be a second reading on the pier recommendation.
The pier jury will meet Friday at 8:30 a.m. at city hall to rank the pier designs. The city staff will recommend the first place design to city council members after Friday's jury meeting.
The neighborhood council listed their concerns and what they liked about each design more thoroughly for the Lens and the Wave pier proposals. "We are not necessarily endorsing either of them but we did critique them," the group said at Wednesday night's Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting.
According to the group's pier report, the biggest positive for the Lens is its cleansed reef, which would be an activity center in the middle of the pier.
The Lens' proposal describes the reef as, "within the enclosure of the Lens, it is possible to create a wave-shelter zone for an extensive new growth of the these "floor" species [sea grass and oyster habitat], which clean the bay water which create water clarity ... at night underwater lighting arrays attract marine life ..."
- According to the neighborhood council report, Positives for the Lens include: Concept an icon, looped pathway over water that will be shaded, integrated with water, low-maintenance struture, cleansed reef, boat access and restaurant and convention space.
- Concerns the group had with the Lens include: Will surface of structure discolor, can the number of pillars be reduced.
The biggest positives for the Wave in the group's report is the structure's iconic potential and its space flexibility. Its biggest concern is the lack of programming alternatives for all age groups.
- Positives from the Council of Neighborhood Associations report include: Iconic and imaginative Pier building, flexible space inside the pier, pavilion at pier's end, drawbridge to Vinoy Park.
- Concerns for the Wave include: Water for recreation off the bridge not cleansed, uncertain budget questions for pier options, will structure discolor and bridge maintenance.
The finalists include: Bjarke Ingels Group (The Wave), lead designer Bjarke Ingels of New York; Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc. (The Lens), lead designer Michael Maltzan of Los Angeles; and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (The Eye), lead designer Adriaan Geuze of New York.
The jury evaluating the proposals is comprised of: Stanley Saitowitz, a South African architect and an architecture professor from University of California, Berkeley; James Moore, PhD, a Tampa-based urban designer and former architecture and design professor at USF; Susan Fainstein, PhD, a Harvard University urban design professor; City Council Member Leslie Curran and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.