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Six teams vying for Pier approach project

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Six design teams have filed paperwork with the city to build features of the downtown waterfront and Pier uplands that would complement Pier Park, including the design team chosen to build the new Pier.

ASD, Rogers Partners and Ken Smith Landscape Architect are hoping to add the $20 million Pier approach project to their already sealed $37 million Pier Park project. In an interview earlier this month, architects with the Tampa-based ASD firm said they were vying for the chance to build on their Pier Park plans by expanding ideas onto the uplands and connecting to downtown’s bustling Beach Drive.

Architects Ken Cowart and John Curran said they think they have an edge up on other firms because they have first-hand experience with the Pier process that helps them understand what the city is looking for. And because they’re designing the new Pier, they may be at an advantage in making the two projects work together seamlessly.

But the five other firms hoping to work on the Pier approach also have niche qualifications for the project as well. AECOM is hoping to win a contract from the city for the project. It served as the city’s consultant on the downtown waterfront plan and the Pier approach is based on that plan.

There are also three firms with ties to the most recent Pier selection process. W Architecture and Landscape Architecture of New York were behind the failed Blue Pier design that would have been an array of lagoons at the new Pier and was a favorite among environmentalists. This time, though, the team is partnering with St. Pete’s Wannemacher Jensen. That firm was behind the 2013 Lens project voters rejected and also the Destination St. Pete Pier design that won considerable local favor this year but was not selected as the city’s final choice.

Alfonso Architects was behind the Alma design that was championed by the city’s former public works administrator and head of the Pier selection committee. That firm is now also working on St. Pete’s new American Arts and Crafts Movement Museum – a $70 million project.

The firms behind Prospect Pier that ranked fourth on the Pier Selection committee’s list and one of the three finalists for designs in 2013, The Wave, are also vying for a chance to design the Pier approach. Denver-based Civitas is again partnering with St. Pete’s Mesh Architecture for the job. They’ve also joined forces with Studio @620’s Bob Devin Jones, who will serve as a consultant for the team.

Finally, local firm OT9 design also applied for a contract with the city. The firm is behind the Channelside Parking Garage in Tampa. Their team includes a designer that will develop a waterfront restaurant with access to Tampa Bay.

According to the Tampa Bay Times each of the five teams challenging ASD/Rogers Partners for the Pier approach project pledge to work with that team to ensure the two projects align.

Alfonso Architects said they hope to include an iconic structure in the Pelican Parking lot where one of two restaurant shells is proposed for the approach. AECOM touts its work on the downtown waterfront master plan as a key qualification in building features residents want.

The project includes a grand entry way to the Pier, two restaurant shells, a pedestrian art promenade, an open-air market and an art bridge. In addition to the Pier approach the project will also include parts of Bayshore and Beach Drives.

A selection process similar to but not as complicated as the Pier process will take place. A committee will shortlist the teams on October 6 with a final ranking expected 10 days after that. Contract negotiations are planned for late this year with City Council approval expected in January.

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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