St. Pete council votes advance Pier District construction

The piles of the old St. Petersburg Pier can be seen amid new, taller ones that have been installed for the education center that will be part of the project. On Thursday, the City Council voted on several matters related to the pier project, including one that would allow a 10-year lease for Tampa Bay Watch, which will hold education programs there. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
The piles of the old St. Petersburg Pier can be seen amid new, taller ones that have been installed for the education center that will be part of the project. On Thursday, the City Council voted on several matters related to the pier project, including one that would allow a 10-year lease for Tampa Bay Watch, which will hold education programs there. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published July 19
Updated July 19

ST. PETERSBURG — The controversy surrounding the proposed location of a Janet Echelman net sculpture on Spa Beach tinged discussions Thursday about an ordinance to amend definitions governing the city's active and passive parks.
But an initially divided City Council voted to pass the ordinance on first reading, deciding to tackle the issue further in committee before the second reading on Aug. 2.

RELATED: Council approves restaurant lease for restaurant, bar and cafe at St. Pete Pier

Council members also addressed several issues specific to the 26-acre Pier District scheduled to open in fall 2019.
They approved amendments to the construction manager contract with Skanska USA to provide additional pre-construction services. The work, not to exceed $75,000, is related to tenant improvements at the pier head building, the education building on the approach and the soaring Echelman sculpture, which requires its own infrastructure.
Skanska will provide services for the Teak Restaurant, Driftwood Café and Pier Teaki roof-top bar, all at the building at the end of the pier. The amendment also will cover Skanska's work on the bait house and sundry shop on the first floor and the concession space in the pavilion near Spa Beach. The education building, which will be operated by Tampa Bay Watch, is also included in the construction manager's amendment.
In addition, Skanska could provide pre-construction services for the Echelman piece. The council denied a contract with the artist on July 12 following public objection to the plan to install her expansive, soaring sculpture at Spa Beach. City staff is expected to submit a report on Aug. 2 that could determine how the piece might still work in the Pier District. The council approved $20,000 for the Echelman piece if the project proceeds.
Under another amendment to Skanska's contract, the company will install piles for Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille that will be built in the former Pelican parking lot. That amendment is for $581,611.
Addressing the plan to amend the definitions for active and passive parks, leisure services administrator Mike Jefferis noted in a report that the amendments are "consistent with guidance from the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan" and that the city believes the update "is appropriate and beneficial for all parks."
The amendment "to expressly include" public art in passive parks drew a number of speakers.
Phil Graham Jr., president of the Waterfront Parks Foundation, which opposed the Echelman piece on Spa Beach, said he was concerned about what it would mean to include vessel docking facilities with passenger loading and unloading zones and other accessory facilities on the downtown waterfront.
"On the surface, the change seems benign," he said, wondering about the size of such structures and the scale of public art.
In other Pier District matters, the council passed a measure designed to establish uniform length of leases along the pier approach. The change will benefit Tampa Bay Watch, which currently has a five-year lease allowed by city charter. The organization wants a 10-year lease for its education programs, like that allowed at the pier head and Pelican lot.
St. Petersburg residents must approve the change. The council passed the first reading of an ordinance scheduling a referendum on Nov. 6 to modify the city charter parks and waterfront map.
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

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