ST. PETERSBURG — With the inverted pyramid rising in the background and flanked by a group of handpicked residents, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Thursday how he hopes to resuscitate efforts to replace or renovate the Pier.
The new timeline makes it official that there will be no pier before 2017 — two years later than he promised on the campaign trail. It's more important to get it done correctly than quickly, he said.
"We're going to do this the right way," he told those gathered at Spa Beach to hear his plan. "Form will follow function."
He promised a "fair, comprehensive and transparent" process to build a pier within the $46 million budget.
Kriseman told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board earlier this week that his goal will be "to shorten" the time frame, which is "longer than I would like."
Helping him push the process along will be a new working group that includes neighborhood leaders, business owners, an environmental activist and the vice chairman of the Pier Advisory Task Force that completed a report about the landmark in 2010. That report will be an important source for the new group, Kriseman said, along with findings from former Mayor Bill Foster's 828 Alliance, a 2013 city poll about the pier and feedback from Kriseman's pier transition team.
Kriseman also spoke of newfound unanimity among the disparate voices and noted that his new group includes representatives from the formerly squabbling sides: those who want to save the inverted pyramid, others who advocated for the avant-garde replacement called the Lens and the group that forced the city to scrap the new project.
"I am encouraged that he is trying to please all factions involved," said Shirley O'Sullivan, an ardent Lens supporter who stood with those gathered behind the mayor.
Bud Risser, a leader of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg that defeated the Lens, also was pleased.
"Frankly, I'm thrilled with the way he is proceeding," he said. "He's open to listening to the community and letting the community speak, and that's going to drive the decision process, which is what should have happened the last time."
Council member Karl Nurse said he is glad the mayor has won consensus for his plan "and that he has it on a pretty short timeline."
A completed Pier is an important part of the city's downtown, Nurse said. "You don't want to have one glaring example of being stuck in neutral."
The timeline unveiled Thursday calls for the new working group to spend three months defining what amenities a pier should offer. Members are expected to rely heavily on public input to determine what people want and what that should look like.
This is "a second bite at the apple" for those not previously involved or those who felt they had not been heard, Kriseman said.
The group's findings will be followed by a request for proposals and a short listing of five to eight architectural and engineering firms that will get a stipend to develop their concepts. A selection committee of architectural and engineering professionals will examine the feasibility of the concepts and the public will be asked to pick their top three in a nonbinding vote. How that will be conducted has not been determined, the mayor said.
The selection committee will take the results of the public vote and with the mayor recommend one design team to the council, Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby said. The council will vote on a contract.
Under this timeline, construction is slated to begin in 2016 and be completed the next year.
"I am glad that we are getting going," said St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce president Chris Steinocher. "If we don't get it going soon, we are going to lose a generation of kids who never had a pier."
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2283.