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Meet Vince Lee: New St. Pete Pier project designer

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The inverted pyramid that stood as an icon representing St. Pete’s downtown waterfront since the 1970s is gone, but plans to build its successor are surging forward.

As the city continues to take steps finalizing the design phase of the new St. Pete Pier, the design team is introducing themselves to residents one video at a time. A video released Monday shows an excited Vince Lee, a project designer with Rogers Partners, touting the space as a way to further liven downtown.

“We’ve really see it as a transformative project that ‘s going to build on the incredible vibrancy that’s already here in St. Pete,” Lee said. “Being able to pull the energies of Beach Drive, the energy of downtown, out to the Pier head and fill it with life is going to be an amazing thing.”

Lee is in charge of the day-to-day design of what was formerly known as Pier Park. He commutes between St. Pete and New York City where the firm is based working to fine tune design features like a shaded walkway and natural water feature.

While the new St. Pete Pier is expected to be an integrated experience including the approach and not just the head, the new design will have a focal point at the end designers hope will become just as iconic as the inverted pyramid was.

Designers will also partner closely with another team working to integrate the Pier uplands with the new Pier to create a seamless transition between downtown and the water.

Lee said he was excited when he learned the history of St. Pete’s park system. In the early 1900s, St. Petersburg Times Editor William Straub and real estate developer C. Perry Snell, pooled their collective financial resources to covertly buy parcels of what was then a commercial shoreline in order to thwart plans to turn waterfront land commercial. It was the beginning of St. Pete’s “City Beautiful” movement.

“I thought that was just the most incredible story and really at the root of what you have here — an incredibly vibrant public space that has the ability to feel just right at all times of year, during all kinds of uses, to all types of people,” Lee said.

Lee touted the boost re-imagining public space could give St. Pete’s already vibrant waterfront.

“It’s a responsibility we take really seriously,” he said.

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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