Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Underwater garden may be dropped from new St. Petersburg Pier plan

ST. PETERSBURG — A key element of the new Pier design will be excluded from an agreement for the $50 million project when it goes before the City Council for approval in a couple of weeks.

Reservations about the proposed underwater garden —- a showcase centered in the tiara-like design of the new Pier and touted as a "habitat for oysters, reef wildlife and sea grasses" —- are behind the decision to omit the design and engineering portions of the concept from the base contract, public works administrator Mike Connors said.

"It would be disappointing if it's not part of the final design," said Will Michaels, chair of the design committee for the Pier Advisory Task Force.

In coming months, though, the Michael Maltzan Architecture design team and city staff will work with Tampa Bay marine science experts to determine the viability of the underwater garden, a process that will be covered in the upcoming contract.

"We really want to consider it closely and make sure it's feasible before we get into spending a whole lot of money designing it,'' said Raul Quintana, the city's architect. "We want to make sure it works."

To Ed Montanari, vice chair of the task force, it's "the key component of the design."

"I don't know of any other idea like that in Tampa Bay,'' he said. "The people that come up with the ideas, they have the details. I'm going to be very interested to see if it works like they say it works.''

Scientists interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times have expressed doubts about plans for the "natural aquarium," which will be built around pilings that support the current Pier. The plan proposed by Tom Leader Studio in California, a member of the Michael Maltzan team, includes planting sea grass that would "attract manatees looking to graze" and sea turtles. Plans for the nearly $900,000 component call for oysters in wire mesh bags to be placed in trays attached to the pilings. The oysters would filter and clarify the murky water.

Scientists are skeptical about several aspects of the underwater garden, from the idea of growing sea grass to possible pollutants in the area that can be toxic to marine life.

"We've had questions about it all along and I think from day one, we've all said, this is something we just don't want to build, we want to make sure it works,'' said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination.

"Granted, it is a unique concept that no other builders have come up with. It does a good job of addressing ways to keep the bay clean. We really want to make sure that we do our homework so that we're not ultimately chasing a project that doesn't make sense.''

Discussions about the garden will be held with the St. Petersburg Ocean Team, a consortium for marine science, oceanographic, and environmental research agencies and institutions, Ballestra said.

"I think that's a go-to group that is worth listening to,'' he said.

Meanwhile, contract negotiations are continuing between the city and Michael Maltzan Architecture for the new Pier, with an agreement set to go before the council May 17. If the underwater garden "is determined to be feasible and financially acceptable," an amendment to the agreement would be sent to the council for approval, Connors said.

The contract will be followed by months of discussions and public input, leading to a final design for the new Pier later this year, Ballestra said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

Underwater garden may be dropped from new St. Petersburg Pier plan 05/01/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fred Clutterbuck poses for a photo in front of the "Dunkirk" movie poster at the Cobb Theatre in Tyrone on Friday. Clutterback is a survivor of the Dunkirk evacuation. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
  2. Clearwater driver charged as 10th person dies in sweltering San Antonio truck

    Nation

    SAN ANTONIO — The Clearwater driver of a sweltering Texas tractor-trailer was charged Monday with transporting immigrants illegally, resulting in the deaths of 10 people.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, left, arrives at the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]
  3. Bank of Tampa expanding into Sarasota

    Banking

    TAMPA — The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota County. It opened a loan office this month in downtown Sarasota at 1858 Ringling Blvd., which will be converted to a full-service branch within the year, the company said in a release Monday.

    The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota. Charles Murphy, pictured, will lead the Sarasota branch. | [Courtesy of The Bank of Tampa]
  4. Jeb Bush: Anthony Scaramucci will help Trump

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Before he discovered unyielding love for Donald Trump, Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, was a Jeb Bush man.

    Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director
  5. Tampa Bay home prices still climbing, though more slowly

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home prices rose again in June, although the once-torrid pace of increases shows signs of slowing.

    This three story home in Port Richey's gated Harborpointe sold for $1.15 million in June, making it the top sale in Pasco County for the month.
[Penny Perry]