Cautious hope – and a new blueprint – for the St. Pete Pier

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The future of the St. Petersburg Pier starts today.

At 4 p.m., to be precise.

That is when grassroots organizer Fred Whaley and fellow members of the newly formed 828 Alliance are scheduled to meet with Mayor Bill Foster at City Hall to present their blueprint for deciding the future of the city pier.

The scheduled exchange comes the day after Foster and other city leaders watched as their $50 million plan for redeveloping the city pier was soundly defeated at the polls.

Whaley is the leader of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the come-from-behind group of volunteers that led the winning campaign to “Stop the Lens” development on the city’s waterfront.

He also is the new co-chair of the 828 Alliance – composed of 12 members appointed by Foster. The group plans to hand to the mayor their approved blueprint for moving forward in deciding the pier’s fate.

The report lays out a specific plan for coming up with a solution that both the community and council will embrace, Whaley said.

The new process calls for an RFP – or request for proposal – for 30 new designs.

Whaley notes that in the previous failed go-around the city made an RFQ, or request for qualifications, which focused exclusively on the designer’s resume, as opposed to what the architect had in mind for redeveloping the pier.

The new process also calls for heavy community involvement, and for at least one of the options to be refurbishing the existing structure.

Whaley also said that the alliance included an original task force report – now two years old – that studied the city’s pier and waterfront. That report may have gotten put aside in the previous process. Whaley indicated that he wants to make sure it is an underpinning for the new process.

Whaley and the Concerned Citizens group apparently are not taking anything for granted, even after Tuesday’s history-making win at the polls.

Instead, the group seems cautious at best.

When asked if today’s ceremonial hand-off of the 828 Alliance’s “approved process report” to Foster signals a new start for both sides, Whaley said simply: “That’s the hope.”