Lucky 7: Panel narrows St. Pete Pier proposal list

At a blearily early Friday morning meeting of the Pier Selection Committee, the panel tasked with reviewing design concepts to replace the St. Pete Pier weighed the ability of each proposal to be built within the city's guidelines — and budget.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for many, the only project that was dropped from the roster was one of two that would not have repurposed the inverted pyramid structure that has been there since 1973. The Crescent, a concept developed by the group ahha!, was rejected for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which was the quality of the proposal itself — as in, the graphics and layout. 

“I found the Crescent was considerably lacking in the professionalism of the delivery, the detail of the delivery, the provocativeness or lack thereof of the concepts therein, and the failure to adequately address a number of the basic requirements we were hoping all entities could address," said Mike Connors, a member of the selection committee.

The design involved a new, multi-story building at the pier head, a curved pathway out to it and dining on the uplands. 

Paul Ries, a member of the ahha! group, said the proposal was hastily put together for a good reason.

"It was Thanksgiving, and we were doing a design pretty much like all the others," he told the panel. "There was just some discord in our thinking. We realized that we were just giving the city exactly what everyone else was giving them...We finally had the guts to put something forth that we didn't know was going to fit or not.”

And apparently it cost 'em.

Seven design concepts now remain, of which only one — Alma by Alfonso Architects — would demolish the inverted pyramid, making way for an observation tower at the pier head. 

The other six would keep the structure, though they would use it in different ways. Those are rePier, Destination St. Pete Pier, Discover Bay Life, Destination St. Pete Pier, Prospect Pier and Blue Pier.

As for what comes next, the teams behind the remaining seven designs will present their ideas Feb. 11 and 12 at the St. Pete Coliseum. Feb. 23 marks the start of a 12-day period in which the public can weigh in on the designs. The city says it expects to present the winner to the mayor and that the project will break ground in May.

The process has already drawn a number of critics, some of whom were among the same cast of characters that led to the downfall of the Lens Pier design back in 2013.

“Not one of these plans have come to the top,” said resident Dan Harvey, who has been active on the issue since before voters rejected the Lens, adding that the plans should be resubmitted after the city completes its downtown waterfront master plan.

Good luck, guys.

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