What happens with the Pier now? - FOX 13 News

What happens with the Pier now?

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

An official representing the City of St. Petersburg sent architect Michael Maltzan an email at 8:37 a.m. Wednesday.

"Pursuant to the electorate's actions regarding the subject project, please cease and desist any further activity..." it says in part.

That starts the otherwise straightforward process of firing the architect of the Lens, the once-proposed next-generation St. Petersburg Pier.

Voters overwhelmingly demanded the termination in a referendum forced by a citizens' petition.

Technically, they approved an ordinance, so after the city council certifies the election results next week, a termination letter must be sent to Maltzan within five days.

That process may be followed by months of inactivity.

"We're definitely going to have a different [city] council next year. The focus will now shift on the general election with the mayor," Lens proponent and term-limited city councilman Jeff Danner told FOX 13 News Wednesday. "I don't know if the conversation's going to be on the Pier for the next four or five months."

City council chairman Karl Nurse suggested the city could find out what people want in a new downtown Pier in the near-term, but added "a new council and either a re-elected or a new mayor are going to have to make the decisions beyond asking people what kind of things they're looking for."

Late Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Bill Foster accepted the final report of the 8/28 Alliance, a committee he appointed in late June to suggest a new pier design process. It suggests that the public's desires be measured before anything else is designed, and laid out a different strategy for selecting an architect next time.

The suggestions are not binding on the mayor or the city council. However, they do include the possible reconsideration of refurbishing the existing St. Pete Pier. It closed May 31st, but federal demolition permits are delayed until at least November.

Even then, without an identified replacement, "I think demolishing it in advance just is like a stick in the eye," Nurse said.

Danner pointed out the Lens design utilized some portions of the current Pier, so the contract for demolition may not be correct. In any event, the negotiated demolition price expires at the end of the year.

The Lens construction price is now moot.

"It's certainly not a $50 million project anymore," Danner predicted, noting the resurgence of construction activity and a general rise in contraction costs. "I don't know that we're going to get a locked-in, guaranteed price, and if we do, it will definitely be higher than the one of a year ago."

Mayor Foster declined to discuss the future of the Pier.

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