Sunday, July 22, 2018
News Roundup

Still waiting: St. Petersburg won’t see a concept or cost for its new pier sculpture until January

ST. PETERSBURG —The unveiling of international artist Janet Echelman’s ideas, and the cost estimate to install one of her billowing sculptures at the pier, have been delayed until the new year.

City architect Raul Quintana said the lag will not slow construction of the Pier District, which is underway.

"It really does not have any bearing on the pier project," he said, though he conceded that the city could save money if the sculpture is installed "while the contractor is still mobilized."

Echelman has sought two delays to present concept designs and estimated costs for her art, which will rise above Spa Beach. The first was in September, when Echelman, who works with aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers and fabricators, requested a 60-day extension because of "significant delays" with her collaborators.

RELATED: Video gives animated tour or new Pier District

Her request for a second extension will likely put a presentation before the city’s Public Arts Commission in January, Quintana said, adding that the Massachusetts-based artist needed the extra time to work on cost estimates.

The information will fulfill part of a $75,000, two-phase, preliminary agreement with the city that requires Echelman to conduct a feasibility study, produce concept designs and give St. Petersburg an approximate cost to acquire her work.

Acquiring an Echelman sculpture can cost millions. Her Secret is Patience, a piece in Phoenix, cost $2.6 million in 2009. Other works have been installed in such places as the Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, and Porto, Portugal.

In St. Petersburg, early projections already have put acquisition of one of Echelman’s world-renowned pieces over budget. The cost of infrastructure alone for the aerial piece could top the $1.3 million earmarked for the project. That money comes from an additional $10 million recently allocated to the Pier District from funds acquired through tax increment financing, a common mechanism that allows cities to pay for improvements using increases in property tax revenue.

Quintana said Echelman is currently requiring five pylons — the tallest is 75 feet —- to hold up her rope sculpture. The pylons and their foundation, along with electrical work and programmable LED lighting for the sculpture, soil testing and engineering, could take the infrastructure cost well above the allocated $1.3 million.

But Quintana says the number crunching is "a work in progress" and that adjustments can be made to bring this part of the project within budget.

"I think we can get it there. We don’t have a final cost from her," he said. "The other cost is the art itself."

The city, which is planning to sell naming rights in the 26-acre Pier District, is gearing up to solicit private funds for an Echelman piece. Mayor Rick Kriseman has already raised $650,000 from undisclosed donors.

Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, supports any plan to raise funds for the sculpture.

"What I do think is that everything that has been done so wonderfully in St. Petersburg’s 125-year history has been a public-private partnership and we shouldn’t expect the city to pay for it all," he said.

"And it’s my hope that the chamber and the entire community can identify those who would invest in the art, as well as all the other wonderful efforts on our waterfront. … It’s going to have to take the entire community to step forward. The city has demonstrated great leadership, and ideally the rest of the community will follow."

One well-known businessman and philanthropist unlikely to contribute is Bud Risser, a leader in the 2013 citizen-led referendum that derailed a previous pier design. Risser, who supported Rick Baker over Kriseman in this year’s bruising mayoral race, is taking issue with how Echelman got the prized commission.

He and his wife, Fran, will not "become involved in the private financing for art that has been proposed for the pier," Risser said.

"It isn’t about the art or artist. It is the decision by the mayor to ignore both the spirit and rules that should be followed," he said. "By leaping to a conclusion, it eliminates the opportunity for other interested artists to participate. As a result, we will have no assurance that we have made the best possible choice."

Meanwhile, Wayne Atherholt, the city’s director of cultural affairs, is getting ready for a fundraising push.

"Once we get the budget and presentation, we will get with council members and then to community asks," he said in an email. " I’ll be working on that plan through the holidays."

Pier District spokeswoman Kristin Brett said the city will not set specific fundraising goals "or develop a formal plan" until it has received and evaluated phase two of Echelman’s feasibility study.

Work will begin soon at the sculpture site on Spa Beach. It will include removing a section of the seawall on the east side of the beach and building a new retaining wall west of the current seawall. The beach also will be reconstituted.

The Pier District is expected to be finished in the spring of 2019.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes

Comments
Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

BRANSON, Mo. - The Coleman family had initially thought of going on a vacation to Florida for their annual trip, but the drive was too long for some elderly relatives who wanted to join. The Colemans settled on going to Branson, a southwestern Missou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

WASHINGTON - Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Donald Trump firedoff his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

Nothing will ruin your beach vacation faster than a sunburn.Get scorched, and suddenly everything that was meant to be fun isn’t: Massages at the spa hurt, day-drinking by the pool hurts, getting on jet skis hurts. Listening to your skincare-obsessed...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hooper: ‘Stand your ground’ can’t stand against senseless shooting over parking space

Hooper: ‘Stand your ground’ can’t stand against senseless shooting over parking space

No 5-year-old should witness his father’s death.No person should die over a parking dispute.But that’s what happened in Clearwater last week. Michael Drejka, 47, confronted 25-year-old Britany Jacobs because she was parked in a handicapped spot at a ...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of two people killed in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide Saturday.At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Alisa Medovich, 23, of Holiday, was shot and killed by Mario Medina,...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

ST. PETERSBURG — To get a sense of how things are going for the Rays right now, consider that opening day starter Chris Archer was wearing a promotional DJ Kitty head in the dugout and veteran OF Carlos Gomez was playing second base during Satu...
Published: 07/21/18
Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

ST. PETERSBURG — This season has been quite a pain for Rays centerfielder and centerpiece Kevin Kiermaier.A cold bat, a nagging illness, a searing foul ball we'll come back to shortly and a torn thumb ligament that required surgery, all in the ...
Published: 07/21/18
Rowdies gain needed victory

Rowdies gain needed victory

ST. PETERSBURG — Georgi Hristov, the Rowdies' all-time goals leader, extended that mark with his 59th and Junior Flemmings had a goal and two assists to lead a revamped lineup in Saturday's 3-1 win over Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium in front o...
Published: 07/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Marlins game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Marlins game

Joey Wendle continues to impress, playing anywhere asked and hitting everywhere. Friday he joined the play-of-the-year race with an amazing glove flip to first. Saturday he was the first Ray with a decent swing off Pablo Lopez, homering in the fourth...
Published: 07/21/18
Rays Tales: Sure is a lot to talk about

Rays Tales: Sure is a lot to talk about

WASHINGTON — There was a lot of talk specific to the Rays at the All-Star Game last week, from commissioner Rob Manfred's strong endorsement of the Ybor stadium plan to Wilson Ramos' rousing ovation from the Washington fans to Blake Snell's imp...
Published: 07/21/18