When it comes to a new City Hall, the Zephyrhills City Council agreed that “bigger is better.”
Council members unanimously approved the design for the new City Hall complex on Jan. 23. The design calls for a two-story building of 19,615 square feet.
The $6.2 million price tag is about $300,000 greater than the alternative option, which called for a structure of 18,170.
Alan Knight, the council’s vice president, was the most outspoken advocate of proceeding with Harvard Jolly’s larger, more expensive, building.
The city’s anticipated future growth is the main factor, Knight reasoned, in dishing out more dollars.
“We’re no longer a sleepy little town,” Knight said. “Zephyrhills is not growing, we’re exploding. I think to do anything to shortchange — or cut the building down— would be a mistake.”
He added: “We’re already the largest city in Pasco County, and I see nothing but growth.”
Council member Lance Smith concurred: “We need to do it first-class.”
The total scope of the City Hall project is estimated at about $7.6 million.
That includes additional “soft” costs, such as architect and engineering fees, furniture and technology expenses.
Other estimated expenses — relocation costs and temporary office space— are also included in the figure, as provided by the city.
The new complex will replace the existing City Hall, which is situated between the city’s public library and fire department on Eighth Street. A courtyard plaza and walkway eventually will link all three buildings.
With a modern stone and brick exterior, the new City Hall follows an architectural template similar to the Zephyrhills Public Library.
The complex’s interior, meanwhile, will be equipped with more open workspaces and multifunctional meeting rooms, which offer flexibility to accommodate public events.
The schematic rendering by Harvard Jolly shows the first floor houses the council chambers, and includes office quarters for the city’s building, finance and planning departments.
Other city departments, such as public works, the Community Redevelopment Agency and technology will be located on the second floor.
“This plan provides a lot flexibility for future growth,” said Amy Morgan, an associate architect with Harvard Jolly. “There are a couple of spare offices with plenty of storage.”
Phil Trezza, senior vice president at Harvard Jolly, expects the new City Hall to have “at least” a 50-year lifespan.
“The bones of the building will be pretty stout,” Trezza said, addressing the council. “We’re considering concrete block walls, and long-life materials.”
Trezza noted the design-development process will take another “five to six months” before construction can begin.
Construction, he said, will take another 12 months, placing the timetable to completion around mid-2018.
In the interim, the city must locate temporary quarters during the City Hall build out.
The council previously discussed the possibility of continuing to utilize the existing City Hall during construction, but safety and accessibility issues won’t allow that.
Temporary placement options include using extra space at the city’s police and fire stations, and other locations.
“We would all be within one block of each other,” said City Manager Steve Spina.
The City Hall complex marks the second major project Harvard Jolly and contractor A.D. Morgan has designed for the city in recent years.
In 2013, both firms were hired to help design the public library.
They later faced scrutiny over the project’s escalating costs.
At the time, the council was presented with an 8,500-square-foot facility for $1.7 million, but overall costs ended up totaling $2.26 million, a 33 percent increase from what the council originally agreed upon.
Spina, though, has reassured the council a similar instance will not occur, with members being involved in the project “every step of the way.”
Along with Spina, other city staff who’ve served on the City Hall review committee are: Sandra Amerson, Bill Burgess. Brian Williams, Gail Hamilton, Lori Hillman, Todd Vande Berg, Mike Panak and Shane LeBlanc.
Published February 1, 2017