Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Opponents critical of Lens images on St. Petersburg's website

This image showing a conceptual drawing of the Lens appears on the city of St. Petersburg’s website.

City of St. Petersburg

This image showing a conceptual drawing of the Lens appears on the city of St. Petersburg’s website.

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than two months before a referendum that will determine the fate of the Lens and the course of the city's downtown waterfront, opponents of the proposed $50 million project are pointing to what they say are inaccurate depictions on the city website.

Prominent on the pier site is a sleekly produced video that takes a visitor on a virtual tour above, around and through the Lens. That, coupled with earlier renderings, give a deceptive view of the controversial pier, those fighting to stop the project say.

"Somebody needs to give us more drawings. You can't decide how you're going to vote on a pretty picture," said Bud Risser of the anti-Lens group, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg. "The pictures the architect produced last summer, which are quite beautiful, are no longer accurate."

Risser and others say the Lens' appearance has undergone a dramatic change since St. Petersburg residents first saw the design more than a year ago. They say the change of materials for the iconic canopy from more expensive and heavier concrete panels to aluminum panels over galvanized steel has altered its look.

They also refer to a photograph of a model deep in the city's website that shows additional support columns and a canopy that appears to be fashioned with elongated, horizontal panels.

Lorraine Margeson, Concerned Citizens' office manager and a candidate for City Council, sent an email blast this week comparing a December rendering with a version of the newer model on the city's site.

"The city says that it 'can't afford' to update their website with renderings that reflect the current iteration of the very changed Lens concept," Margeson wrote. "Well, we have some folks doing that FOR FREE, Mayor (Bill) Foster, we'll take care of it for you if you'll guarantee to put up the truth on the city's site."

Indeed, finding the latest information requires more than a cursory visit to the website promoting "The New St. Pete Pier." For that, visitors must delve into the expansive "Book 3" of the Lens design presented to the City Council in May.

The city had said that a continued flow of updated renderings was not part of its contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture, designers of the Lens. This week, though, city architect Raul Quintana said Maltzan is working on new renderings at no cost to the city.

"The essential components of the design are still there,'' Quintana said. "We haven't misrepresented that. It's the details that are changing."

Council Chairman Karl Nurse, who supports Concerned Citizens and its referendum to stop the Lens, shares the group's concerns.

"They are certainly correct in that the city's website does have essentially conceptual drawings that do not reflect the changes that have happened over time," he said.

Downtown resident Howard Taylor is among those leading the charge. In May, the former stockbroker fired off a letter to the mayor and City Council outlining his concerns. He raised the issue again at a council meeting.

"We just don't know, especially with the vote coming up, exactly what the Lens is," he said in an interview.

The new model "demonstrates what many of us believe, which is the beautiful, curving lines of the original concept cannot be produced using the newly proposed construction materials," Risser said.

"That model is not representative of the final condition of the canopy or the finishes to the canopy," Quintana said. "The intent of the model is a design tool that the architect uses to look at the project in three dimensions."

A lot has been learned from tests conducted and those are "reflected in the design of the canopy, the structural support system, the foundation and the overall geometry of the project," Quintana said.

Meanwhile, council member Jeff Danner, a staunch Lens supporter, wants to step up efforts to educate voters. He plans to bring up the issue at Thursday's council meeting.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

City Council meets at 3 p.m. Thursday, City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg.

Opponents critical of Lens images on St. Petersburg's website 06/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 20, 2013 4:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  2. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  3. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.