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Future of 'Lens' Could Become Clearer This Week

A presentation by the Michael Maltzan team, a pier petition court hearing and council vote on the "basis of design" for the "Lens".

The future of the St. Petersburg Pier and the "Lens", the $50 million design slated to replace the existing pier, could become much clearer this week. 

On Tuesday, the Michael Maltzan Architecture team will give a presentation on the updated plans of the "Lens", called the "basis of design." The presentation will be at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

(See new "Lens" renderings posted above)

Last week, the Maltzan team released hundreds of documents detailing the updated plans, costs and schedules. Included in them were plans for more shade structures, a restaurant and event space at the end of the "Lens" and restaurant space at the base of the pier, called the Hub. 

A day after the basis of design report is given, on Dec. 5, the city will be in court regarding VoteOnthePier.com's petition drive. The group, who was collecting signatures to force the city to vote on the future of the existing pier, collected enough signatures but were denied the opportunity after council voted 6-2 to not put anything on the November ballot. 

On Aug. 22, local attorney and former mayor candidate Kathleen Ford filed suit against city and council for taking that action. According to county court documents, the city asked for a dismissal.

VoteOnThePier chairman Tom Lambdon told Patch in November that he is hopeful the judge will rule the city is legally obligated to hold a vote because enough signed petitions were submitted and verified. 

"We are hopeful that the Pinellas County Judge, Amy Williams, who has been assigned to hear and decide our case – will agree that our petitions are in fact legal – and have been individually counted and certified by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections – and that the city must provide for a special election for the voters of the city to finally be able to decide the fate of their Pier – either way," Lambdon said.

The city's legal team has held firm the belief that VoteOnThePier's petition drive is not legal because the city's charter does not require them to hold a referendum. According to the charter, if a petition drive receives enough valid signatures about a city ordinance then it will require the city to hold a vote. However, according to the city, the pier is a capital project. 

Thursday, Dec. 6, city council will vote to accept the basis of design report that Maltzan presented to council on Dec. 4.

If approved, the design report will allow, "the Maltzan team to proceed with the design of the new St. Petersburg Pier and Skanska USA Builders to continue providing pre-construction phase services and geotechnical services."

The basis of design report council will vote on is designed to sure up costs of the design. If approved, the next phase is the schematic design phase. That, according to city documents, "will provide a comprehensive design and preparation of construction documents for use by Skanska in providing a guaranteed maximum price and constructing the new St. Petersburg Pier."

As of right now, the pier is still slated for closure on May 31, 2013 with demolition set for the fall of 2013. 

Construction of the "Lens" could start as soon as early 2014. 

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