Request for proposals for architectural services for new Sarasota County administration center hits the street four days after County Commission approves sale of downtown Sarasota structure

Bids due by Jan. 19, 2022

This graphic shows the site at 1301 Cattlemen Road, bounded by the dotted yellow lines, that is the focus of planning for a new county administration center. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Just four days after the Sarasota County Commission voted unanimously to sell the downtown Sarasota Administration Center property to Benderson Development for $25 million, county staff began advertising for architectural services for the replacement facility that will be built at 1301 Cattlemen Road.

Bids are due Jan. 19, 2022, the documents show.

An evaluation meeting for the bids is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2022, with presentations “by short-listed Proposers” set for Feb. 16, 2022, the document points out.

In May, Carolyn Eastwood, director of the county’s Capital Projects Department, told the commissioners that staff anticipated that the new facility could be occupied in July 2025. The projected cost at that time was $72 million.

Bidders should be able to demonstrate experience in the design of multi-story — three or more levels — of state or local government administrative facilities with a construction cost higher than $35 million, “either under construction or completed within the last 10 years,” one of the bid documents says.

This is a concept plan for the new administration center at 1301 Cattlemen Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Scope of Services in the Request for Proposals explains that the new facility “is anticipated to be multi-story at roughly 120,000 gross square feet.” It is to “include ‘Class A’ office space for various County departments, County Administrative and Commission offices, Commission Chambers and associated technologies, and staff support facilities, including fitness center, break room, meeting rooms, training rooms, etc.” describes “Class A” office space as the “cream of the crop.”

“Typically,” says, “Class A buildings are the newest, most modern high-rises on the market, with ‘high-quality standard finishes, state of the art systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence,’ according to the Building Owners and Managers Association International.”

Further, the bid document continues, “The security and safety of the public, staff, elected officials and the facility itself shall be paramount in the design of the facility.” In reference to natural disasters such as hurricanes, it also notes, “The level of hardening and resiliency of the facility, or a portion thereof, beyond Florida Building Code requirements is yet to be determined and will be a primary consideration during initial design phases.”

Additionally, the Scope of Services says, “It is anticipated that the facility will include a central energy plant and full-building emergency generator. Planning or design and construction documents for utility improvements, either on or off-site, and/or off-site roadway improvements may be required.”

“All required parking is to be anticipated at grade,” the document points out. “However, planning or design and construction documents for a parking garage may be included.”

This is a concept plan showing how a second structure could be built on the Cattlemen Road site if the primary building later proves insufficient for staffing needs. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Among other details, the document says, “[T]he facility should exhibit dignity, permanence and accessibility. It should also reflect the proud architectural history in the community and include the following aspects (within budget):

  • “Design should be timeless and avoid high styles/trends.
  • “Predominantly natural tones (with other design elements/accents OK).
  • “Exterior accents of stone or similar ‘permanent’ materials will be encouraged.
  • “A plan office box would not be appropriate.
  • “A positive look, feel and work environment — the facility should be a recruiting tool for the County.”
    Moreover, the document calls for the structure to “incorporate elements necessary to obtain the highest LEED Certification possible.”

Among the bid materials is a PowerPoint presentation provided to the County Commission in May 2021. It features details about the new Administration Center scenario that the board members settled on in the spring.

That document pointed out that, along with the commissioners, county administrative personnel, and staff who handle services for the commissioners, the occupants of the new building would be the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller; the Office of the County Attorney; the Communications and Human Resources departments; Library Administration; and the Office of Financial Management.

A chart with more details shows, for example, that County Administrator Jonathan Lewis’ office has 250 net square feet of space in the downtown Sarasota building, and that is the amount of space that the county administrator should have in the new facility. (Net square feet is defined as the area of usable space that is available for furnishings, equipment and personnel, the News Leader found in an online search.)

This is a section of one of the bid documents, with stipulations for sizes of county administrative offices and related rooms. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Additionally, each county commissioner has 180 net square feet of space in the County Administration Center located at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota. That dimension remains the same for the new structure, as well.

Further, the building in downtown Sarasota has five conference rooms ranging in size from 200 net square feet — for a room that could seat four to eight people — up to 850 net square feet for an extra large conference room that could accommodate 20 to 40 people. The sizes of those rooms also should remain the same in the new administration center, the document notes.

The new Commission Chambers also would have 3,600 net square feet, just like the one in the building at 1660 Ringling Blvd. The chart in the bid documents explains that the room should contain 180 audience seats “(same as existing),” with 11 seats at the dais and the potential to increase that number to 12.

Moreover, the note about the size of the Chambers calls for “ample open area in front of the dais [and] ballistic-rated desks at dais,” with a ramp to the dais to be required.

The stipulations for the Office of the County Attorney do show an expected increase in the number of legal assistants/paralegals from seven in 2022 to 10 in 2032. Further, the number of assistant county attorneys is anticipated to rise from 12 in the 2022 fiscal year budget to 18 in 2032.

This is the portion of the bid documents outlining provisions for the new Office of the County Attorney. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Therefore, the Office of the County Attorney’s overall net square footage in the new building should be 6,397, the document notes, instead of the 5,305 net square feet in the downtown Sarasota structure.

One other criterion in the bid document is that the office “needs to be adjacent/’co-located’ with County Administration.”