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City estimates Pier Park timeline — no shovel in the dirt until 2017

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The City of St. Pete sent an email blast updating subscribers on the progress of the Pier.

The email didn’t say where the administration was in negotiations with the Pier Park design team or offer any additional specifics as to when negotiations may be complete.

Instead, the email re-emphasized that negotiations take anywhere between 45 and 60 days. About a month has passed since Pier Park was approved as the top-ranked team by City Council last month.

The city did offer a timeline laying out when each phase of the Pier project is expected to take place. In those estimations, the city has negotiations finishing up by July.

A contract would be presented to council sometime in July or August for approval. Despite likely pushback from the usual naysayers, council is expected to approve that contract.

Between August and October the design team would work on refining its concept. As has been pointed out by Pier Park supporters in response to myriad ways critics think the plan is doomed, the current concept is highly conceptual. Public meetings and various other outreach efforts will likely lead to changes in design and fine-tuning of features.

Simply put, it’s a chance for Rogers Partners and ASD Architects to work out some of the kinks.

The schematic design is expected to be completed sometime near the end of 2015. While a schematic design is still inherently conceptual, the ideas contained within it would be more concrete.

Completion of design development is expected to wrap up by Spring 2016. That means more details surrounding the design’s architectural components would be presented. It would also likely mean that a more tangible budget would be available.

The city estimates construction documents will be completed in the Fall of 2016 with permitting completed by the end of that same year.

Construction would run through 2017 and 2018.

This timeline is yet another slap to Mayor Rick Kriseman whose initial estimates had a new Pier completed by the end of 2015. After being elected, Kriseman later revised that to late 2017. Now a completed Pier isn’t expected until 2018.

And the newest estimated timeline also assumes Pier Park isn’t challenged. A petition effort is already underway to force yet another ballot referendum. In 2013 a ballot question asked voters whether or not the city should cancel its contract with Michael Maltzan Architects to build the Lens.

The latest petition effort instead asks voters if the city should have to hold a referendum to approve construction on downtown waterfront property.

The city moved forward with plans to build the Lens despite the petition effort then. That decision ended up costing them about $4 million. It begs the question, will City Council move forward with plans to build Pier Park if a referendum appears imminent?

At this stage in the effort it is too early to tell whether those efforts pose a credible risk to the progress of Pier Park, but if history repeats itself, Council will face some tough choices.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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