ST. PETERSBURG — The Lens has been one of the most polarizing issues here in recent memory, and voters will finally have their say on the controversial project today.
The referendum on the project, in which voters are being asked whether the city should cancel its contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture to build the proposed pier, springs from a grassroots petition effort — the second the city has seen since city leaders chose the Lens to replace the aging inverted pyramid, which closed in May.
Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg collected more than 20,000 signatures to force the public vote on the futuristic $50 million project. The “Stop the Lens” campaign followed a previous petition drive that also collected more than 20,000 signatures from people who wanted a public vote on saving the inverted pyramid. City leaders rejected those calls after concluding many of the Vote on the Pier campaign’s signatures were invalid.
Supporters of the Lens say it would be an icon that would help brand the city internationally and would help transform St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront.