$29 million in bonds approved to help fund county’s new Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources administrative building and One Stop center for Planning and Development Services

Construction of each anticipated to get underway later this year

This graphic shows the Northwest Quad site where the new One Stop center will be built. Image courtesy Sarasota County

On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota County commissioners approved the issuance of $29 million in general revenue bonds to help pay for the construction of both the new Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Administration Building at Twin Lakes Park and the new One Stop center for the Planning and Development Services staff.

The One Stop facility will stand on part of the county property called the Northwest Quad, which is west of the Celery Fields regional stormwater project and international bird-watching destination. The Quad — one of four parcels that the county bought with the Celery Fields land, though it was not needed for the stormwater initiative — is located at the intersection of Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard.

County Fire Station 8 sits on a portion of the Northwest Quad.

The Jan. 10 agenda item was listed as a Presentation Upon Request. No board member asked for a presentation, and no member of the public had signed up to offer remarks, Chair Michael Moran noted.

Commissioner Mark Smith made the motion, and Commissioner Joe Neunder seconded it.

None of the board members offered comments, either, before approving the motion.

The bonds will be secured by the half-cent sales tax revenue that the county collects, with the repayment of them to come out of “general government revenues,” as well as revenue generated by permits and the services provided by Planning and Development Services, a county staff memo said.

This graphic shows Twin Lakes Park. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The new Parks Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) building “will house the Administrative functions of the six current PRNR divisions with flexibility to adapt to the future,” a county Capital Improvement Program (CIP) document in the agenda packet points out. “Included is a separate wing [with] approximately 5,400 square feet,” a multi-purpose building with two meeting rooms/programming spaces “with associated restrooms,” and two additional restrooms to serve the existing athletic court and possible future courts, the document adds. “The meeting/programming space and restrooms are proposed to be available to the public.”

The total expense of that project has been estimated at $16.6 million, with $13,681,000 going toward the construction itself, the CIP document added.

Work on that building could begin as early as July, the county staff memo indicated. The Jon F. Swift Construction firm of Sarasota will oversee that project, thanks to a commission vote in July 2022.

The approximately 52,000-square-foot One Stop center will house all of the North County Planning and Development Services (PDS) staff working out of the county’s Operations Center standing at 1001 Central Sarasota Blvd. — known as the “BOB building” — as well as those assigned to the downtown Sarasota County Administration Center.

The county’s BOB building is seen from the street. Image from Google Maps

A county Capital Improvement Program document for that project, also in the agenda packet, noted that having the staff split between those locations “makes department operations inefficient and is a burden for citizens seeking PDS services.”

The staff memo included in the Jan. 10 agenda packet pointed out, “The [Planning and Development facility] will truly be a One Stop Center for applicants, property owners, businesses, professionals, etc. to discuss projects and complete transactions with PDS. The One Stop Center will also include design features to host customer meetings, Development Review Coordination meetings, advisory boards, community workshops, staff training, etc.”

“Development Review Coordination” refers to the county departments involved in land-use planning. Representatives of those departments — including Environmental Protection and Transportation — analyze applications and offer recommendations on modifications necessary to ensure that projects comply with all of the applicable county policies and regulations.

One of the documents in the Jan. 10 agenda packet says that $17,073,000 of the bond revenue will be dedicated to the One Stop initiative.

The construction of the One Stop center could start as early as May, the staff memo noted. The Capital Improvement Program document shows that the total expense for that undertaking has been estimated at $38,573,000, with the construction itself to cost $32,654,983.

In July 2023, the commissioners unanimously approved the hiring of Halfacre Construction Co. of Sarasota to oversee the building of the One Stop center.

The pricing of the bonds tentatively is scheduled for early February, the Jan. 10 staff memo said, with the closing anticipated in late February.