Tensions continue to rise in the debate surrounding which Pier design will eventually grace the downtown St. Pete waterfront.
A group supporting Blue Pier is circulating a meme to go along with a petition launched last week.
The meme shows two of the designs. Alma’s narrow, illuminated nighttime tower is at the top of the meme with the question, “tired of big money interests trying to take OUR waterfront?”
At the bottom is the brightly colored graphic of Blue Pier that says, “so are we.”
The text then invites supporters of Blue Pier, or just critics of Alma, to sign the petition on change.org.
The differences in the two pictures are chosen pretty keenly. The darkness of the Alma graphic compared to the daytime bright colors of Blue Pier highlight staunch differences while also sending a message to viewers that Alma is the negative choice and Blue Pier the positive. At least that’s what ninth-grade English teachers might say.
Alma is the design by Alfonso Architects and seems to be the top choice of the Pier Selection Committee. The group assembled by the mayor to choose a top ranking for the new Pier has delayed its final ranking until teams answer more technical rankings.
The committee is expected to schedule their final ranking this week. Blue Pier was voted out of the top three, essentially removing it from consideration.
While Alfonso Architects is based in Tampa, Blue Pier supporters are likely referring to support from the prominent Gonzmart family when they point to big-money interests. That family owns the Columbia restaurants as well as the newly opened Ulele Restaurant in West Tampa. The family had a restaurant in the inverted pyramid, but struggled with success there. They blamed the distance diners had to travel from car to restaurant.
The Gonzmarts say having dining space on the Pier head, as Alma does, is a better recipe for success.
Destination St. Pete Pier is also making a lot of noise from its spot in the top three. That design was chosen in three separate surveys as the public’s top choice. While it’s not pictured in the meme, Destination has the support of former Mayor Rick Baker, who works for prominent downtown developer Bill Edwards.
Blue Pier ranked third in the city’s survey and an independent survey conducted by St. Pete Polls. In the St. Pete Polls survey 39 percent of people said they approved of Blue Pier while only 21 percent indicated they approved of Alma.