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Locally inspired Destination St. Pete Pier emerges as frontrunner for new Pier

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There’s a clear winner among the public for a new St. Pete Pier. With more than 10,000 votes, Destination St. Pete Pier by the St. Pete Design Group has emerged as an early front-runner for a redesigned waterfront icon.

The Destination St. Pete Pier redesigns the current inverted pyramid. Among the seven finalists shortlisted to complete the project, the St. Pete Design group’s design closest resembles the current inverted pyramid.

In all, nearly 17,000 votes were cast in the non-binding vote that ran from February 23 until March 6. Of those, just under 10,000 are verified St. Pete residents. Only those votes cast by residents 18 and older will be taken into considered by the Pier Selection Committee.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this unprecedented survey, a worthwhile endeavor that will inform the Selection Committee as they make their recommendations later this month,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a statement. “The key to this process has always been transparency, and that is why it was important to take the pulse of the community and hear their voice. I look forward to next steps as we plan for a new St. Petersburg Pier.”

The results now head to the Pier Selection Committee for review and rating. Though the team will consider results of the survey, they will also weigh aspects like budget, permit availability, operational costs, environmental impacts and whether or not the designs meet the “programmatic desires” laid out throughout the pier process.

The committee is scheduled to reach a final ranking and decision by March 20 and have its preferred design sent to City Hall for an up or down vote on April 2.

Destination St. Pete Pier not only looks like the current inverted pyramid, it revamps the space into a more functional spot for recreation, dining and shopping.

It would include five different dining opportunities, including an air-conditioned rooftop restaurant, an outdoor café at Spa Beach and an ice cream shop at the Pier head. There would be two lanes dedicated to trams emergency vehicles, service trucks and general automobile access for the public. It would also provide sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycles and plenty of shade.

The design includes a fishing deck and bait shop, a kids’ zone gathering space both inside and out and an air-conditioned space that could be used for the popular marine discovery center concept or some sort of museum.

The next closest design in popularity among the public is The Pier Park by Rogers Partners Architects and Urban Designers with 6,811 votes. This design reuses the existing foundation, but replaces the inverted pyramid with a new shape – more of a cube. That design focuses more on establishing the pier as a destination than as an icon of the downtown waterfront.

Behind that is Blue Pier with 4,728 votes, Discover Bay Life with 4,482 and the Alma with 4,022 votes. Prospect Pier came in last with just 3,217 votes. The rePier concept fared only slightly better with 5,508 votes.

Overall the turnout for residents weighing in on the designs was dismal. Some 200,000 residents were eligible to vote during the process. With only 9,631 voters verified by the city’s standards, that turnout is less than five percent.

Whatever design group is offered a contract will have a $33 million construction budget.

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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