Zephyrhills plans to buy property next to City Hall

The conceptual plan of a new City Hall complex in Zephyrhills has taken another step forward.

The city council unanimously authorized city manager Steve Spina and city attorney Matt Maggard to negotiate the purchase of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter building, at 5325 Eighth St. The .16-acre property, appraised at $71,200, sits on two lots measuring 50-by-140 feet.

The City of Zephyrhills plans to purchase the Disabled American Veterans property, shown on the left, to use as temporary office space once construction begins on the $6.2 million City Hall project. Post-construction, the DAV property will be used for additional parking and sidewalks, linking the City Hall with the city’s library and fire department.
(Courtesy of City of Zephyrhills)

The action came at the council’s regular Feb. 13 meeting.

In November, the council authorized obtaining an appraisal to determine the value of the property after DAV Chapter 65 announced it was shutting operations.

The now-vacant property — which sits adjacent to the current City Hall along Sixth Avenue — includes a 924-square-foot main building, a 450-square-foot aluminum storage building and a 335-square-foot concrete block building.

Its planned usage is multi-layered.

Initially, it will provide temporary office space — likely for the city’s Building Department, when construction is underway on the new, $6.2 million City Hall complex.

The City Hall project is expected to be complete sometime in mid-2018.

After construction is completed, the main DAV building will be torn down to make way for additional parking and sidewalks along Sixth Avenue.

The property, too, encompasses the city’s vision of a courtyard plaza and walkway, linking the new City Hall and the city’s public library, and fire department on Eighth Street.

“We’re buying it for the big picture,” Spina said. “Part of the appeal of the area is it would be a government complex.”

Zephyrhills city manager Steven Spina

Council president Kenneth Compton agreed, saying the “location couldn’t really get any better.”

Spina said the DAV building is move-in ready, but additional funds will be set aside to make it a suitable workplace for city employees.

Funds are available to purchase the building in the city’s contingency budget. Likewise, expenses could be billed into the construction of the new City Hall.

Spina advised the council he plans to negotiate an offer several thousand dollars less than the appraised value.

Moreover, the city is eyeing another temporary quarters along Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue. One possibility, Spina said, is the former police station, at 5344 Ninth St.

Meantime, the design of the new City Hall is already in motion.

City staff members have met with engineers and architects to outline project goals and objectives, along with a construction timeline.

The project calls for a two-story building of 19,615 square feet, significantly larger than the current City Hall, which is 13,497 square feet.

With a modern stone and brick exterior, the new City Hall follows an architectural template similar to the Zephyrhills Public Library.

In other action, the council heard an update on the Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest, from Melonie Monson, executive director of The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce.

Monson told council members that the event drew more than 11,000, its largest turnout ever.

That compares to about 6,000 the previous year.

She estimated the economic impact for the event at about $500,000.

She also shared a few statistics:

  • About 30 percent of attendees were regional; 20 percent were out-of-state.
  • There were 39 sponsors.
  • Fifty-four cook teams took part, and there were 73 judges.
  • There were 140 vendors and expo participants, and there were 180 volunteers who contributed more than 3,000 hours of service.

“With the overwhelming success of the new venue and this year’s barbecue, the economic impact will be felt in our community for some time,” she said.

The chamber’s annual Pay It Forward dinner is Feb. 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Silverado Golf & Country Club. There, donations and scholarships will be dished out from money raised during the BBQ fest.

Published February 22, 2017

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