St. Pete Chamber: The Lens is “must see” experience for entire downtown waterfront

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After months of discussion and debate, the time has arrived for St. Petersburg to come together as a community and move the city forward.

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce wants all voters in Tuesday’s citywide primary election to know who will make the best Mayor, and which City Council candidates are ideal for Districts 4, 6 and 8.

The Chamber PAC is supporting:

Mayor: Mayor Bill Foster
District 4: Darden Rice
District 6: Karl Nurse
District 8: Amy Foster

Even more significant is that the Chamber wants every resident to understand the true value the Lens will be for the city’s future.

In a letter to voters, Chamber president and CEO Chris Steinocher restated the group’s support of the “commerce, economic growth and community vitality” the Lens will bring to St. Petersburg.

Steinocher cited the four-and-a half years of hard work (as well as $3.5 million dollars already spent) in design and development by the Pier Task Force and Board of Governors; all while focusing on the three fundamental tenets of the project to modernize the waterfront landmark — Process, Timeline and Budget.

Since the process has been “reshaped” to accommodate the Aug. 27 referendum, Steinocher reminds residents of the substantial investment involved to date, something that “should not be wasted.”

The Chamber letter continues:

Our Pier Task Force has always been focused on ensuring the pier experience for our residents meets the requirements outlined over 3 years ago by the Citizens Advisory Task Force. We believe it continues to do so and will honor the newfound excitement in the experience of our downtown waterfront. We believe this new pier will become a “must see” Florida experience; drawing visitors from around the world to experience it firsthand while enjoying (and spending $ at) all our city’s shops, restaurants, galleries and exhibits.

Steinocher applauds Foster’s effort in addressing the issue with his 8/28 Alliance, which will outline a new process if the referendum on cancelling designer Michael Maltzan’s contract for the Lens should go through.

However, since there are no “clear cut answers” on the cost and timeline of a replacement project, the uncertainty would be detrimental for the economic health of the city.

This is why the Chamber recommends to “Vote No” on Tuesday, as a way to align mission of the Pier project with the voices of the business community of St. Petersburg.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.