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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 "". 

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, 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 . 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 , 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 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 . 

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 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, .

"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." 

carol gray May 16, 2012 at 03:21 PM
It is a sad day for the residents of St Pete. We are not allowed to vote on the issue of the Pier and our water front. We do not need more dept and taxs. The Pier we have brings tourism to downtown. A sidewalk will not.
Irene Pavese May 16, 2012 at 03:42 PM
If we have millions to spend...let's restore the vacant buildings and build new affordable housing for the citizens of this great city.
Jeannie Cline May 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
If city council approves this half million dollar expenditure, just watch. They will then use their action to discourage citizens from signing the petition to get this public issue on the ballot, where it should be. The burden will be on council as Mr Lamndon has indicated that there will be proof that 13,000-plus signed petitions will be in full view. City council can delay this vote on the expenditure and, quite possibly, the mayor could, too. Don't fall for their tricks and posturing, citizens of St Pete...they are masking their actions as leadership instead of what it really is.....not listening the the citizens. Period.
Eric Wilhelm May 16, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Why is public input only solicited AFTER a $500,000 downpayment is made on the lens? One would think getting public buy-in before proceeding would be the rational thing to do. Personally, I think St. Petersburg should live up to its designation as a "green city" and recycle/reuse what it's got in the existing structure.
Robert Thompson May 17, 2012 at 03:00 AM
The current Pier will cost as much or more to renovate than build a new one. The current Pier also looses approx 2 million per year. The new Lens would eliminate this direct 2 million dollar subsidy from the city each and every year.. This project has been in process with public input requested for over 3 yrs. The current Pier will condemned as the bridge is falling apart. The inverted pyramid requires a total rebuild. It will cost 50 to 90 million to rebuild and will "still" require a subsidy as it is a terrible business model. All of the Pier Visioning Committee documents are online at Stpete.org. Read up folks.
Jeannie Cline May 17, 2012 at 03:57 AM
There are numerous other estimates on the renovation of the pier and some creative ideas such as the integration of a municipal water taxi station, which will free up more funding. The estimate for repairing the approach includes the widening of it, for some dubious reason. The building itself is intact and can be fortified well within budget. There is even talk of restoring a real streetcar line in St Pete that would connect to the water taxi at this Pier. The Pier Visioning Committee had one goal in mind, replace this pier and shut out creative ideas to update this iconic place. Now just why does a bridge that is 1/5 of a mile long require over $50 mil when the Friendship Trail bridge renewal costs for 2.5 miles are $40 mil?
Linda Lewallen May 17, 2012 at 03:22 PM
When the law firm of Mayor Bill Foster is are no longer allowed to rotate the mayor-ship of St. Petersburg Florida as they have done over the last 30 plus years, then the boondoggles like demolishing the current Pier to replace it with something on which the law firm partners will make 15 cents on the dollar will stop. Mayor Bill Foster's law firm has made billions of dollars through the new construction in St. Petersburg, why should Mayor Foster stop at the pier?
Rita Frederick May 17, 2012 at 07:00 PM
The Lens is forward thinking and world class in ecological design, as well as an educational model for other waterfront cities. Saint Petersburg continues to attract first class organizations The newest being the North American Jacques Cousteau Headquarters, for oceanic conservation. Let's move forward Saint Petersburg!
Patricia Gingrich May 17, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I remember the original Spanish style Pier - my Grandmother took me there as a child. It was heartbreaking for many when it was demolished. I have since grown quite fond of the inverted pyramid, taking some great pictures of it last year - it still looks very futuristic. Why does 'The Lens' have to replace The Pier? The Pier has become synonymous with St Petersburg. Surely there is some other property for The Lens. Water taxis are a great idea for the water front. They are very popular & useful in both Boston & Chicago, why not St Petersburg? And Keep The Pier!
dave rogers May 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM
What a waste of money...and what a waste of city council ...get those people out of office now! let the people vote for our tax dollars being spent and just re-do the exsiting peir ..the lens is a terrible idea!
Bob Wilson May 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
We did a thorough analysis of Mayor Foster's "facts" pier brochure, as well as a review of how we got here in the first place: http://billfosterwatch.blogspot.com/2012/05/fact-checking-mayor-bill-fosters-pier.html

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