With bids having been due on Feb. 18, county staff to review proposals related to construction of new ‘One Stop Center’ for Planning and Development Services 

Based on engineering guidelines and 2019 county resolution, no traffic study needed for facility planned on one of the Quads parcels next to Celery Fields

This is a graphic showing the Northwest Quad near the Celery Fields. It is home to Fire Station 8, and it tentatively has been planned as home to the new Planning and Development Services ‘One Stop Center.’ Image courtesy Sarasota County

On Feb. 18, bids were due in response to Sarasota County’s advertisement for construction management services for the new One Stop Center that will be built for the Planning and Development Services Department.

Last year, the County Commission authorized that project.

Following a Nov. 16, 2021 public hearing, the board members voted unanimously to appropriate $2.5 million for the design of the facility, which will stand on one of the Quads parcels located “at Palmer Boulevard and Apex Road” in the eastern part of the county, as a staff memo described it.

The Scope of Services advertised for the project pointed out that, even though the proposed location is on county-owned land “at the intersection of Apex Rd. and Palmer Blvd.” in Sarasota, “[t]he project location may be modified by the Board of County Commissioners.”

During a Feb. 23 commission discussion, Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho identified the Northwest Quad as the proposed site.

Building permit fee revenue will cover the expense of the design work, the staff memo said.

The structure, the memo added, is to serve as a “One Stop Center” for all of the department’s operations. Not only will it house staff members working out of the County Administration Center located on Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota, the memo pointed out, but it also will be home to the workers who have been operating out of the county’s BOB Building in the eastern part of the county, near Interstate 75.

Although the schedule could change, the bid documents noted, the tentative plans called for a March 11 meeting of county staff to evaluate the responses, with presentations on March 23 by representatives of the firms short-listed for consideration.

The Request for Professional Services said the facility will comprise 40,000 to 50,000 square feet.

This is a section of a chart in the ‘Scope of Services,’ showing space needed in the new building for specific divisions. ‘DGSF’ stands for departmental gross square feet, while ‘BGSF’ stands for building gross square feet. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Scope of Services in the bid documents added that the structure may be either one story or multiple stories. The facility is to include “general ‘Class-A’ office space” for various department divisions, as well as a public lobby and permitting services center; one or more meeting rooms for the county’s Development Review Committee, which reviews applications for development and provides detailed responses to project teams about compliance with county policies and zoning regulations; a break room; other meeting rooms; and training rooms.

“The facility should integrate emerging technologies used in government, offices, and workspaces,” the Scope of Services continued.

Moreover, it said, “The security and safety of the public, staff, elected officials and the facility itself shall be paramount in the design of the facility.”

“All required parking is anticipated to be at grade,” the document added.

Among other details, the Scope of Services called for the design to “incorporate elements necessary to obtain the highest LEED Certification possible.”

Further, the facility should “meet the 2030 Challenge Resolution No. 2006-157, to the highest extent feasible,” the document pointed out.

That resolution pledged the county’s “commitment to extending its leadership in clean energy standards by developing building standards that require fossil fuel reduction for meeting energy needs. By the year 2030,” the resolution continued, “new construction projects undertaken by the County would use no fossil fuel greenhouse gas-emitting energy to operate …”

That resolution explained that, at the time, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that, “as a whole, U.S. buildings use 36% of U.S. energy demand, 68% of the country’s electricity …”

Charts included with the bid advertisement noted that that the total number of Planning and Development Services staff this year is 175; that figure is anticipated to grow to 193 by 2032. The Building Division has the largest number of those workers, it says: 58. In second place, Planning and Zoning has 50 employees; Environmental Protection has 35.

By 2032, the Building Division is expected to have 54 workers, while Planning and Zoning is anticipated to have 54. No change is foreseen for Environmental Protection.

Effects on traffic in the vicinity of Apex and Palmer

This aerial map shows Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard dividing the Quads, with Interstate 75 to the west. Image from Google Maps

In years past, discussions have arisen during public hearings before the County Commission about transportation problems in the area of the Quads, especially in regard to the road network’s being inadequate to serve the number of drivers who use it.

Given those comments, The Sarasota News Leader asked county staff whether a traffic study had been undertaken in regard to the decision to place the new Planning and Development building on one of the Quads.

In a Feb. 18 email, Senior Transportation Manager Donald DeBerry, who works in the Public Works Department, wrote the following:

“We are working to evaluate proposed development concepts as they are identified …” He offered some examples based upon one proposed scenario.

Image from the ITE website

The Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) provides a manual that deals with trips and parking situations. In that document, he continued, the Land Use 730 Government Office Building estimate for 1,000 square feet of gross floor area predicts 1.71 peak hour trips by drivers, DeBerry noted.

One potential location for the Planning and Development building would comprise 51,000 square feet, he added. Thus, using the ITE manual, he wrote, for 51,000 square feet of space, the estimate would be 87 trips per peak drive hour and 870 AADT, which stands for “annual average daily traffic.”

Using the ITE manual, DeBerry also pointed out, staff calculated that the new County Administration center proposed at the time at 1301 Cattlemen Road, which was to comprise 120,000 square feet in four stories, would generate 205 trips during the peak hour, or 2050 AADT. (See the related article in this issue.)

Staff then analyzes the trip calculations in the context of a county resolution approved in 2019 — just as it would for any other development, DeBerry explained. No traffic study would be needed for the new Planning and Development Services structure, he added, based on the above scenario.

In the resolution DeBerry referenced, the Findings of Fact pointed out that staff felt the need to establish “clear requirements for Transportation Impact Analyses and Site Access Assessments related to land use petitions and land development applications,” so staff would be able to take “a consistent approach” to evaluating applications for new developments.

An exhibit attached to the resolution said, “All land development applications with 100 or more Peak-Hour trips during the adjacent roadway’s peak-hour or the development’s peak-hour, as determined by the County Engineer or designee in the Public Works Department, will be required to submit a Transportation Impact Analysis that will consider the capacity of thoroughfare facilities, study area intersections, safety, operations and an inventory of the existing multi-modal infrastructure adjacent to the proposed project.”