"The Lens" is the most popular design for a new St. Petersburg Pier, but like its two competitors, cannot be built as proposed for $45 million.
An outside consultant hired by the city reviewed the three design teams' cost analyses and concluded all exceed the city's budget by 12 percent to 29 percent, or roughly $5 to $15 million.
"These guys did their concepts in ten weeks," said Chris Ballestra, the city official overseeing the Pier project. "So we don't expect it to be perfect."
Ballestra added the consultant's findings were shared with the design teams and "...all the teams say absolutely yes, they can be adjusted to be within budget."
For example, the design known as "The Wave" could be shortened from 127 feet tall to 100 feet, and the width of its bridge narrowed from 90 to 75 feet.
However, the Wave received "positive or very positive" scores from less than 50 percent of the more than 5,000 citizens who made written or online comments.
"The Lens" had approval ratings exceeding 70 percent; "The Eye" is seen as "negative or very negative" by more than 80 percent of the respondents.
The Lens and the Wave also differ as much functionally as they do visually. The Lens is more like an over-the-water park, while The Wave is a building that would require some sort of "programming" such as shops, restaurants and activities.
City staffers think the Lens would require the least annual subsidy.
The consultant's reports, the public comments and other material were emailed Monday to members of a five-person jury that will rank the three proposals at a January 20th meeting.
City council members also received the materials because they will eventually decide whether to hire one of the design teams.
The existing Pier, shaped like an inverted pyramid, dates back to the 1960s and the bridge known as the Pier approach dates back to the 1920s. Engineers think the approach is in the final years of safe use.
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