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St. Pete names pivotal seven-member panel in pier design process

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has appointed an eclectic group to help pare the bunch of hopefuls the city expects to vie to design a new pier or renovate the closed inverted pyramid.

Kriseman's selection committee, which includes preservationists, an expert on sea level rise, a couple of architects and a vice president of the Tampa Bay Rays, is set to play a powerful role in the mayor's plan for a Pier by 2017.

The group will initially eliminate design teams based on qualifications and other preliminary information, then review the concepts of short-listed teams before presenting a select few to the public for a nonbinding vote. The committee will rank the top three designs — based on the city's criteria and public response — and present them to the mayor. He will ask the City Council to sign a contract with one of the teams.

Information about the seven-member selection committee was released Friday in a "request for qualifications" package seeking design teams to help St. Petersburg continue its more than century-old tradition of a downtown pier.

Kai Warren, long active in preservation circles and a former president of the Historic Roser Park neighborhood, is excited to be part of the process.

"I am really honored to be put in this position to have some input in helping to create our future," he said, adding that he has mixed feelings about renovating the Pier, but no special agenda.

"As a preservationist, I think the new project should have some connection to our heritage, either architectural style or purpose. Maybe to have fishing, which is a very historical connection to it."

The city's request for qualifications includes recommendations from Kriseman's Pier Working Group, which determined residents' wishes for the pier. Design teams will be expected to incorporate into their plans top-choice amenities like observation areas, places to eat, air conditioning, transportation, fishing, and cycling, jogging and walking paths.

They will have to work within a $46 million budget. The teams also are being asked to coordinate their ideas with the city's pending Downtown Waterfront Master Plan.

The group has "a very important role," said Bob Jeffrey, a selection committee member who is a historic-preservation specialist and former assistant director of development services for the city.

"What's helpful is that I've gone through this process with the city a bunch of times for various other selection processes. There's a lot of information that we are going to have to review in order to pick the designer, and that's not an easy process," said Jeffrey, also an architect.

The selection committee includes Gary Mitchum, associate dean of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and an expert on sea level rise, and Melanie Lenz, vice president of development for the Tampa Bay Rays. Lenz managed the design and construction of the Rays' spring training facility in Charlotte County.

The group also includes Michael G. Meidel, director of the Pinellas County Economic Development Department, and James Jackson Jr., architect for the city of Tampa.

Jackson said he will bring a certain expertise to the process. "It happens to be in my wheelhouse, being an architect and being a key person in the management of capital projects and consultant selection with the city of Tampa," he said.

St. Petersburg public works administrator Michael Connors will be the sole St. Petersburg city staffer on the committee.

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