The historic City Hall building in Dade City began its life in the mid-1920s as a hotel that never was completed.
It found new life in the 1940s as a Depression-era work project and became the hub of city government for decades.
But in 2013, a wrecking ball demolished the aging structure.
“It was old and obsolete,” said Gordon Onderdonk, Dade City’s public works director. “We looked at the cost of renovation. It wasn’t feasible to use the building.”
A groundbreaking is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on March 6 for a modern, 21,000-square-foot building on the same ground where the old City Hall structure stood for so long at Fifth Street and Meridian Avenue.
In its re-invented life, the building will be home to Dade City’s City Hall and its police station.
The idea of locating both government entities at one address isn’t unusual, said architect Lisa Wannemacher, principal at St. Petersburg-based Wannemacher Jensen Architects.
“Multi-use is trending,” she said.
Community centers, for example, often are used for multiple uses and are intergenerational, as well, with space dedicated to seniors and children under one roof, Wannemacher said.
Dade City officials saw benefits of having City Hall and the police department share one building.
“They were able to take advantage of economy of scale…and make the building more efficient, which translates into saving money,” Wannemacher said.
By spring 2016, city employees who were relocated to a City Hall annex and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot on U.S. 98 at U.S. 301 will settle into their new offices. The city’s police department will move from its current location on Pasco Avenue into an upgraded headquarters separated from City Hall by a covered courtyard plaza.
“It’s great for the city, great for the community,” said Dade City Police Chief Ray Velboom. “It’s long overdue.”
He said he anticipates the new facility will help the department when applying in the future for accreditation from the national Commission of Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.
The police station will have interview rooms, holding cells, a booking area, a special area for the K-9 unit and a conference room. The station has those things now, but the building and technology will be newer and upgraded, Velboom said.
“We’ll be making the most of what we have,” he said.
City council has not decided the fate of the existing police station, Onderdonk said.
The $5.9 million construction budget will be paid will be paid from the city’s reserve funds and the countywide Penny for Pasco program.
Residents also will notice a new feature at City Commission meetings.
A projection screen will make it easier for them to follow what is happening, especially during public hearings on zoning matters, Onderdonk.
The new building also will have a power backup system for emergencies.
The main goal of the project was to consolidate city departments under one roof rather than having them scattered at different offices. “It’s not efficient for residents,” Onderdonk said.
Published March 4, 2015