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St. Petersburg Pier: Lens architect describes changes

5:30 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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St. Pete Pier design proposal: "The Lens" by Michael Maltzan Architecture (image courtesy City of St. Petersburg)
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St. Petersburg, Florida - The Lens continues to come under the microscope with both city council and community members taking a closer look at the project.

The L.A. architect of the winning -- yet controversial -- design, Michael Maltzan made a presentation to St. Petersburg city council members on Thursday. He and his team spent more than two hours describing the Lens in more detail, including recent changes they've made to the plans. The changes come after some 25 meetings with resident and business groups.

"We're taking the feedback seriously," local architecture representative Lisa Wannamacher told the council.

The Lens design, criticized by some as a just a $50 million piece of art, now includes more space for activities and entertainment. Maltzan described shady sitting areas, an education center, a restaurant and bar, a bike trail, fishing spots, kayak rentals, and docking slips for boats.

"The goal in the design of the Pier was to design a pier that presented many different opportunities," said Maltzan.

However, members of a newly formed group fighting the Lens, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, are still not convinced this project is the right thing for the city's waterfront.

"It just doesn't fit in," the group's president Bill Ballard told 10 News before the presentation.

And environmental activist Lorraine Margeson, who sat in on the meeting, says project details are still scarce.

"It's just astounding that our city council can sit up there and say, 'That looks good, we'll keep moving forward,' when they have no plan," said Margeson.

So there's vocal criticism, petition drives and a lawsuit over the Lens, but a majority of the council remains committed to creating something new.

At the end of the meeting councilman Steve Kornell said, "I think we got what we asked for in the design competition, which is something that hasn't been done before."

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