$10.5 million approved for partial funding of county’s new Planning and Development Services building on Northwest Quad

Contracts pertaining to architectural services and construction management expected to be brought to County Commission in July

A graphic shows the planned location of the new Planning and Development Services ‘One Stop’ facility on the Northwest Quad. Image courtesy Sarasota County

With no comments, the Sarasota County Commission this week unanimously approved partial construction funding of $10.5 million for the new Planning and Development Services Department’s “One Stop” Center, whose location staff has proposed on the Northwest Quad parcel just east of Interstate 75.

That property also is home to Fire Station 8, which opened in September 2020. The Quad is one of four parcels that the county owns next to the Celery Fields regional stormwater project, which also has proven to be an international bird-watching destination.

As The Sarasota News Leader previously has reported, the new Planning and Development Services facility will have sufficient space for all of the department staff members, who are split between the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota and the county’s BOB Building, also east of I-75.

As the formal county Capital Improvement Program document pertaining to the plans points out, that separation of the staff members “makes department operations inefficient and is a burden for citizens seeking [Planning and Development] services. With the relocation of the County Administration facility,” the document continues, “the opportunity exists to centralize [Planning and Development Services] functions for greater customer ‘one stop’ convenience and greater efficiency.”

The commissioners have agreed that the new North County Administration Center will be built on property that Benderson Development Co. owns just off Fruitville Road. On Feb. 23, the commissioners approved a swap of about 6.8 acres of county land at Nathan Benderson Park for approximately 9 acres that Benderson Development owns just south of the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s ER at Fruitville.

This graphic offers details about the property where the new County Administration Center will be built. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Capital Improvement Program document in the March 8 commission agenda materials further notes that the expense of operating the new Planning and Development Services building is expected to be between $8 and $10 per square foot. That would include structure and grounds maintenance, utilities, and general operations, the document adds. “The department [that] will bear this expense has yet to be determined,” the document points out.

A March 8 county staff memo, included in the commission agenda packet for the meeting that day, explains that the structure will be designed with 40,000 to 50,000 square feet. Along with staff offices, it will provide room for Development Review Coordination (DRC) meetings and workshops.

The DRC team works with applicants to help them fine-tune project plans so construction, if approved, would comply with county regulations and policies.

This is the first page of a Development Review Committee form that developers are asked to submit prior to filing formal project applications with Planning and Development. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The One Stop building also may include “components of development related functions of other County departments and Officers for customer convenience,” the staff memo pointed out.

The potential does exist for the project to be expedited, the staff memo adds.

Proposed contracts with a professional architecture firm and with a company that can manage the construction “will be brought to the Board for consideration in July 2022,” the memo says.

The Capital Improvement Program document does note that the design and engineering expenses for the building are anticipated to cost $1.8 million, with the total construction expense pegged at $10,770,000. Another $430,000 has been included in the budget for a firm to manage the project.

Thus, the total budget has been estimated at $13 million, the document says. Building permit fee revenue will be used to cover that, the document points out.

The item was included on the commission’s March 8 agenda as “Presentation upon Request,” meaning that if one or more board members wanted to listen to staff remarks, those would be provided.

No commissioner asked for any staff comments, and

Chair Alan Maio announced that he had no cards from members of the public who wanted to address the item.

After Maio closed the public hearing, Commissioner Michael Moran made the motion to approve the funding, and Commissioner Ron Cutsinger seconded it.