New St. Pete Lens renderings give ground-level view - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

New St. Pete Lens renderings give ground-level view

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The city of St. Petersburg Friday released a handful of new images depicting the proposed replacement for the St. Pete Pier.

"Every image you've seen to date has been of a static object," project pointman Chris Ballestra said while viewing one image on his desktop. "This is dynamic, moving, fluid, with people."

By next Tuesday, there will be more than 20 new renderings as well as an animation showing a "helicopter" fly around of the Lens.

All of the images released Friday are at grade level, showing new details of the double-layered loops out onto Tampa Bay. One shows diners in the outdoor area of a proposed landside restaurant at the foot of the Pier. Another shows the dining area at the end of the structure.

Ballestra said such imagery had to wait until a 900+ page "basis of design" was finished. Among many other details, the two volume document claims the Lens can be constructed within budget.

"This is the project that can be built, that's the critical point," he explained. "These are things that can be realized."

The imagery's first job, and therefore first exposure, will be a Tuesday presentation to city council. Thursday, the council considers spending the next $5.4 million toward the estimated $50 million project.

The imagery's second job will be selling the Lens to the public.

"I think some of the [public] resistance has come from the lack of images," Anthony Sullivan told FOX 13 News. Sullivan is a well-known TV pitchman who has become the Lens most vocal citizen-supporter. He added that he understands the delay.

"I think the architects and design team are so concerned about these images being picked apart that they really, really want them to be right," Sullivan said. "I feel that they feel that you could put the Hope diamond in front of the city right now and some of these people would say, well that's just not good enough."

Sullivan will display the images Sunday evening at Janus Landing, where he is hosting a "Rock the Lens" concert. So far, Lens supporters have been greatly outnumbered by critics, as evidenced by a petition drive to "Stop The Lens."

The project presentation to the city council is Tuesday, with a vote on the next appropriation scheduled for Thursday. In between, a group called Voteonthepier.com has a court hearing. It is asking a judge to issue an injunction against the city, which plans to close the existing St. Pete Pier May 31, 2013 and demolish it next summer.

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