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Friday, Nov 16, 2018
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St. Pete receives eight designs for a new Pier

– From shimmering futuristic recreations of the iconic bayfront pyramid, to a dramatic reconstruction featuring a tall lighted tower, eight design teams submitted plans on Monday in the competition to re-do the city's landmark Pier.

Six of the eight proposals, in the works since the city chose the groups in October, incorporate the original inverted pyramid that currently anchors the fenced-off and closed pier. Two others start from scratch with new ideas.

“I'm excited for city. I think there are enough options here that everyone will have a choice,” city architect Raul Quintana said.

The city gave each group $30,000 to come up with proposals for the $33 million project to replace the centerpiece of the city's downtown waterfront. Whether new or renovated, the pier is expected to reopen by the end of 2017.

The St. Pete Design Group, which includes the original pier's design company, Harvard Jolly, proposes to transform the current shell into “a pure, crystalline pyramid,” veiled by falling water and surrounded by swooping, elevated double-deck walkways suspended above the water. Conversely, the Alfonso Architects group from Tampa proposes something entirely new. Named Alma, the “Soul of the City” plan is highlighted by a vertical tower with a two-story glass building off to the side, leading to double-deck observation platforms over the bay.

Next, all of the plans will undergo technical and community scrutiny, beginning with a 30-day review to determine the viability of each project, Quintana said. That review includes the projected cost, environmental impacts, whether they can get the necessary permits, the estimated construction time and, “ultimately whether it is something the public can accept,” he said.

City, county, state and federal agencies each will be involved in the review process, he said. The city's selection committee will review the plans in January.

The proposals that emerge will go on public display Feb. 11-12 at the Coliseum, and the city will follow up with a survey of residents Feb. 23 to March 6. The pier selection committee will rank them in March.

The selection committee and Mayor Rick Kriseman will make recommendations to the City Council, which must approve the design and construction contracts.

Ben Kirby, the mayor's spokesman, said Kriseman planned review the proposals Monday night but had no comment.

The $33 million allocated for the project covers construction or renovation. The overall budget of $46 million includes demolition of the corroded pier approach, which was part of the Million Dollar Pier built in 1926.

This is the city's second attempt to modernize its signature waterfront structure. The city previously Michael Maltzan's Lens design after a five-year process. But opponents of the Lens organized to force a referendum in 2013 and voters rejected the plan after the city spent more than $4 million on the project.

The controversy spilled over and became a major campaign issue as current Mayor Rick Kriseman defeated incumbent Bill Foster in November 2013. Kriseman vowed to increase public involvement in the project, which required pushing back the projected opening until 2017.

The rebidding process attracted 16 local and national bids, which was narrowed to eight in October.

Among them is longtime St. Petersburg firm Harvard Jolly, which teamed with architect Yann Weymouth, who designed the Dali Museum,and local firm Wannemacher Jensen to form the St. Pete Design group.

The team of Alfonso Architects of Tampa includes Dale Chihuly, HSN chief Mindy Grossman and area artist James Rosenquist

All of the plans are available on the city's Website, www.stpete.org. Others proposals were:

• ahha! Design Group, of St. Petersburg, proposes redesigning the pyramid to incorporate a series of curved walls, like sails facing the water,in a $45 million project called The Crescent. It includes a park, cafes, shops and galleries

• FREE, a team from Civitas and Mesh Architecture, would redesign the pyramid to resemble a floating platform hovering above the pier, each overlooking the bay, called Prospect Pier.

• Ross Barney Architects, of Chicago, with Long and Associates of Tampa and University of South Florida historian Gary Mormino have designed a project called re-Pier that renovates the pyramid and covers it with an open-side roof, with a mimicking structure at the entry to the renovated pier approach.

• Roger Partners and Ken Smith Landscape, a Tampa team, would transform the long pier approach into a nature trail leading to the renovated pyramid, with a pedestrian area and reflecting pool at the bay, called Pier Park.

• VOA of Orlando, in a plan called Discover Bay Life, envisions a more dramatic, open-beam pyramid supported by a pair of buildings with a central corridor on the pier runway leading to the bay. It include a park and marine discovery center.

• W Architecture and Landscape Architecture of New York,as the Alfonso group, would eliminate the pyramid. Its Blue Pier plan would create a linear lagoon park along a landscaped pedestrian pier with reflecting pools leading toward the bay, and with a park on the south side of the pier.

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