What the public likes may not necessarily be what the public gets when it comes to the new St. Petersburg Pier.
Late Thursday night, the St. Pete pier selection committee ranked its remaining three designs and listed Pier Park as its top choice. The committee chose Destination St. Pete Pier second, which actually was the top choice in a public opinion poll, and the Alma design was selected third.
The rankings came after a nine-hour meeting that wrapped up after midnight.
Now, it's up to the St. Pete City Council to approve or deny the recommendation from the committee, which would allow the city to begin negotiations with the Pier Park design firm.
Resident Larry Brown says he wishes the selection committee would've given more weight to the design that won the poll.
"I'd rather they would pick the one that we had voted for," said Brown.
Other residents also say they liked destination St. Pete best but don't want the decision to lead to another Lens type battle that might leave the city without a new pier for many more years.
"I won't fight it but I am very disappointed in the selection committee,” said resident Justin Dillon. “I think what they did, they looked at it and said we don't really care what the residents want, we're going to do what we want."
Brian Bailey, the publisher of the website ilovetheburg.com has a pulse on the city.
Bailey says he believes the pier park design ultimately won because they had the best presentation.
"From what we know, even the committee was leaning in a different direction,” Bailey said. “I think they honestly picked this one because after the presentations they thought it was the best choice."
Bailey says he hopes residents will not fight over the pier park design because that would be bad for the city.
"We now have a design and not picking that design means more delays and more expenses to the taxpayer," Bailey said.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said he is excited about the design rankings but there are some concerns from council members.
"It fits within our vision of being a city that honors its past while pursuing its future," Kriseman said of Pier Park.
The design features a four-level structure with a fabric roof and 7,600-square feet of air-conditioned restaurant space with panoramic views. The pier overlook would hold events and the lawn area could be used for concerts.
Kriseman said any of the top three would have been excellent choices.
Still, council members expressed some hesitancy.
"(It's) very simple, cut and clear," said councilman Wengay Newton. "Destination was the one that was number one (with the public)."
Committee chair Mike Connors said it was a tedious process but a neccesary one.
"It’s an extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive means and method to get this far," Connors said. "I’m relieved we’re now taking another step forward."
Despite any concerns, Kriseman said he is confident the council will support Pier Park, adding the design not only meets all of the requirements and it was among the finalists in the public poll.
"We established a pier process that citizens on every side of this issue agreed would result in a fair and objective decision," Kriseman said. "I am proud that we have stayed true to that process and that it has been transparent and open to the public throughout. I thank the Selection Committee for their diligence and their hard work. This was not an easy job, but it was a necessary one.
"The iconic St. Petersburg Pier has often been the source of passionate debate in the Sunshine City, but it is also a source of great pride. I'm looking forward to the day we cut the ribbon on a new St. Petersburg Pier."
The city council is expected to vote on authorizing contract negotiations with the Pier Park designers on May 7.
The committee's ranking on the final three designs:
- Potential permit problems because of the size and over-water coverage
- Extends pier activity along its length, creating a "bay side city experience"
- Offers a platform for a multitude of smaller, more flexible experinces for tourists and locals
- Designed by ASD/Rogers Partners/KSLA
DESTINATION ST. PETE PIER
- Keeps inverted pyramid
- Only proposal that allows vehicles to drive on the approach
- Includes multiple dining options, 360-degree viws, an enhanced Spa Beach, and a fishing deck and bait shop
- Mid-range ranking for revenue because committee says not enough leasable space
- Designed by St. Pete Design Group
- Includes four zones: the Gateway, the Garden, the Pier and the Tower
- Low maintenance and low capital costs; high revenue expected
- Waterfront restaurant could be hard to permit because of existing sea grasses
- Offers multiple observation opportunities and