No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Done Deal: City Picks Architecture Firm, Advertises Construction For New City Hall

| February 3, 2011

The Orlando firm Palm Coast picked for its proposed city hall built the Winter Garden City Hall, above, to specifications similar to Palm Coast's--40,000 square feet, $10.2 million. (C.T. Hsu and Associates)

It’s not just voters who haven’t approved a new Palm Coast City Hall. Neither has the Palm Coast City Council. The city administration, however, is proceeding as if its concept of a new, $10 million, 40,000-square-foot city hall is a done deal.

Late last year the administration advertised a request for qualifications from architecture firms and settled on one—Orlando-based C.T. Hsu and Associates, which designed several city halls in Florida, including Winter Garden’s 40,000-square-foot model. The council hasn’t signed a contract with the firm, nor has it seen a schematic design. The city has just advertised another RFQ—for a construction management company, posting a construction budget of $8.3 million. Companies have until March 2 to send in proposals.

“Where we are now, the city has selected the architect. They still have to present it to the city council for them to approve,” said Dave Klages of the city’s purchasing department, which oversees the RFQs. “They’re just assuming the architect is going to be approved.” Advertising the construction management RFQ, Klages said, “is an indication that they’re expecting it to be passed by the city council,” adding, “I think it’s already a go.”

Mayor Jon Netts bristled at the suggestion Thursday. “It’s certainly not a go. Absolutely not a go,” Netts said. “If they’re saying it’s a go maybe they’re saying getting a proposal from the management firm to see what’s involved, but it’s absolutely not a go to build one, not in my mind anyway.”

Netts wasn’t aware of the RFQ advertising for the construction firm, but he was aware of the advertising and choice of an architectural firm. An early supporter of a new city hall, Netts in November pulled back slightly, asking instead for “hard data” on what a new building would entail, how efficient it would be, what it would, in fact, cost. “I’m still looking for some specific data,” Netts said. That data has not been presented to the council. The mayor interpreted the RFQs as part of the process of gathering that hard data. But he repeated that whatever the administration’s moves have been, “there’s been no contract before city council and therefore there’s no action by city council.”

The driving force behind a new city hall is not the council, but Jim Landon, the city manager, who has been pushing the idea aggressively for more than a year, and in late fall held a series of town hall-style meetings around town to present the idea to the public. His tone changed somewhat during those meetings, where—at least before the public—he portrayed himself more neutrally on the issue than he had before the council. The public meetings were designed to sway a public still largely opposed to the idea. In 2005, 82 percent of the electorate rejected a referendum on building a new city hall.

At the time, the proposal entailed a 70,000 square foot building and a bond levy that would have been financed with slightly higher taxes. In this case, Landon is proposing to pay for the new city hall with $10 million without raising taxes, though just over half the amount would be borrowed by the city’s Town Center community redevelopment agency to enable the deal. (The CRA, a subset of the city government, “owes” the city’s general fund that amount. It would pay it back, but only by borrowing it at regular, commercial rates.)

The difference in size and in price may not be affecting the public as much as the method and timing of the administration’s push for a new city hall. A recurrent theme when people have addressed Landon or the council on the proposal is that if the council wants it, it should again submit it to a popular referendum, not make the decision on its own. The city is also hearing criticism for undertaking a $10 million project when its reserves are near all-time lows, when the economy has still not turned around, and when the $10 million, if available, could be used for other public works with broader results, such as stormwater or swale or other infrastructure improvements—or to rebuild reserves. Landon, nets and Council member Frank Meeker have argued that building in a downturn is the best time to build, because construction costs are low and the project provides a local economic stimulus. Yet the major firms handling the project will be from out of town.

Meeker, too, was surprised by the latest RFQ.

“I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea because nothing has been decided about a new city hall yet,” Meeker said Tuesday. “To my knowledge we’re still waiting for the manager and the administration to come back with additional information that was requested by the mayor.”

Meeker supports the notion of a city hall the way the mayor does—philosophically. But Meeker has had second thoughts about the location of city hall. Landon is pushing Town Center. Meeker says that plan was predicated on a city pre-dating its acquisition of 10 more square miles to its north and west. “The council may want to re-look at things based on these projects that are sitting to the left and see if the goals and projects of the last two years may be reconsidered in light of this new land,” Meeker said. “I really don’t like the shopping area for the city hall. I don’t think it’s the right image for the city. I really don’t.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

24 Responses for “Done Deal: City Picks Architecture Firm, Advertises Construction For New City Hall”

  1. Jan says:

    Architect is not a local firm. Construction Manager probably won’t be either.
    Wonder how many of the sub-contractors will be local.
    It is just sad our government doesn’t contiribute more to our own desperate economy.

  2. Lin says:

    Looks like the town-hall meetings Landon held were just for show. The questions (most unanswered) and objections expressed by the citizens are being ignored & the city presses on. Further insult that the firm chosen is out-of-county. How does the building of this new city hall help the citizens of flagler &city of palm coast? NOT. How do Landon & the council & the mayor represent the citizens of palm coast, NOT.

  3. Rob says:

    Jan,
    What usually happens is the contractor subs out the work, the sub gets what is called piece workers who work for very low wages.. In this case it will be immigrants, because no one else would work for those low wages. If and when the INS comes calling the general contractor will feign ignorance, the sub contractor will say something like it is not our responsibility to monitor employees from the companies we use and the last man in line will claim all the employees paperwork seemed to be in order.

    You will see that the very people who complain about immigrants working and taking “our” so called jobs are the same ones who want A #1 expert work for Wal Mart prices.

    As Paul Harvey would say, now for the rest of the story. Does the town council work for the town manager or does the town manager work for the town council? Team the town manager is going to run this play until it works.

  4. Justice for All says:

    Wow. I bet the spin by Landon will be that he needed the construction RFQ to gather those facts that the City Council wanted him to get. Good luck to any council members who are up for re-election. Your City Manager continues to make this an election issue.

  5. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    Reply to Lin:
    Lin, can you please tell us what was said during those ‘…town-hall meetings Landon held were just for show…’. We ask because we did not attend them and we would like to know what was said, if anything, about the proceeds from the sale of the ‘…multipurpose office building suitable for tenants…’ ( for the newer arrivals, I.T.T. was Federally ordered to construct a ‘…multipurpose office building suitable for tenants… in the Pine Lakes Office Park…’. The concept being that this building would be available to attract NEW businesses to Palm Coast. Once here, that new business would evaluate their total overall needs, and built at another Industrial Park location since Palm Coast has Four Industrial Parks, including the ‘Intracoastal Industrial Park’. This would then make this ‘ building ‘ available to attract anoter NEW business, and the cycle repeat itself. The Federal Trade Commission ordered this Building, under C-2854, Decisions and Orders, and was amongst so many other REDRESS items for us and for the benefit of course for all future Palm Coasters.)
    Lin, ‘Thank You Very Much’ for any information you can provide.

  6. Lin says:

    Silly me, I thought council, mayor & city manager worked for the citizens of PC. Maybe they all should be out of a job. I think it may be up to US to make it an election issue.

    Can I be optimistic and believe that at least one of them will declare their opposition to this city hall white elephant? Who out there really believes that with reserves so low, the economy so weak and the funds not “in the bank” to be used for construction — that we will not get our taxes raised some time during the construction?

    Am I the only one who notices the similarity to other legislation our federal gov’t rammed through regardless what the citizens want?

  7. K says:

    I will actively campaign against any incumbent City Council member, including our Mayor if they do not take a stand against Landon and his actions.

  8. Lin says:

    To Palm Coast Pioneers,
    Sorry, our posts must have crossed.
    I say “just for show” because:
    1. Landon made a point in favor of the build now — the land at city center would revert back to the developer. A citizen asked — do we not get paid market value for the land by the developer? ? not answered.
    2. It was mentioned we do not have all the funds in the CRA towards the $5.8 needed. If we do not have the money, how will contractors get paid? Loans? If loans, then we need to have a VOTE.
    3. If we deplete the utility fund, what reserves will PC have? Still higher water fees?
    4. Do we really need a “showplace” that is the word used in Landon’s presentation,
    5. Landon deferred to the accountants with several questions by the citizens. Assumptions were made re rent vs. build. Where are these numbers coming from? Why weren’t the accountants present? Are we losing interest on any moneys being held by PC? There were so many questions, so few answers.
    6. What will another big, empty space do to our economy when the city vacates their present space?

    My opinion is that the presentation was all smoke & mirrors — the citizens need more info and need to vote on this. Landon’t presentation (about 5 from what I recall) gave the in-favor position. In the court of public opinion, citizens gave mostly “cons”. Who is the judge that is going to make the decision?

  9. lawabidingcitizen says:

    We, in Flagler Beach, narrowly escaped the new city hall agenda pushed hard by Interim-Manager, who dazzled commissioners into agreeing that we needed it and spent a lot of our money on studies, etc. The negative reaction by taxpayers was swift and loud. City managers want to have a line on their resumes that includes building an expensive new city hall.

    Palm Coast residents should rise up and nip this in the bud. It’s outrageous that a city employee would take it upon himself to go ahead and make arrangements to build something taxpayers. which unfortunately includes me, don’t want.

  10. Jerry M says:

    How about following through on the commitment that the City made to the developer of Town Center many years ago while they were going through the approval process of this massive project. After all the City was made a focal point of this project and the developer gave the land currently earmarked as the “future” city hall site through the process of dedication which also includes the entire park area which so many of us enjoy. That’s right! In case you are not aware of it, the park area is also included in the reverter clause if the city does not go vertical within the time line spelled out in the agreement. How about an 8′ foot fence around our central park. Let us also remember the the Town Center encompasses the Epic Theatre, the Publix shopping center on Belle Terre, the Super Target center on SR 100 and the Hilton Garden which will be joined shortly by Panera. All of this brought to our community by the master developer, Palm Coast Holdings and the many other investors that they brought to the table. I’m sure that the dramatic increase in sales tax revenues has been a direct result of the now available shopping and dining opportunities spurred by the Town Center developement. And that’s another point that I would like to make. With all of the sales tax revenues, impact and permit fees paid by the Town Center development, jobs created resulting in even more money spent back into the community, in the end won’t our new city hall pay for itself?

  11. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    Lin: Thank you very much for the information. We really appreciate is alot; perhaps they will give us back our Federally Ordered Business Building. We can hope…

  12. Lin says:

    Help me, Jerry M, understand about this “commitment”.
    Exactly what “commitment” was made? I have not seen the real estate contract. In real estate contracts, each party makes promises in their own interest. Palm Coast Holdings and other investors must have had good business reasons to make this agreement at the time. Obviously, the economy has severely contracted so that the original plan for a giant city hall is not needed — in my opinion, no new city hall is needed at this time and we can’t afford to pay for it. $10 million or more.

    I don’t see how a new city hall would “pay for itself”. It doesn’t create jobs or pay taxes. Will Palm Coast citizens be employed in this build?

  13. New media needs to be held accountable says:

    “82 percent of the electorate rejected a referendum …” – What percentage of Palm Coasters voted? I recall it was like 23%

    I think there a a very silent majority, who need to get out and vote and show you naysayers that most citizens actually do favor a City Hall.

    Okay I’m leaving now … taking cover for speaking what I believe to be the truth, just another side to it.

  14. Jerry M says:

    Lin, I’d be happy to help you. The commitment is based on the fact that the developer’s design of Town Center included a central location for the future city hall of Palm Coast. This fact is further enforced by the fact I stated which is that the City currently owns the land and that land was given to the City as part of the project approval process. This happens all of the time and is called “dedication”. The agreement is public record and you are more than free to view it for yourself online on the Clerk of Courts site. It may be easier to gain access though, by going to the City and requesting a copy of it. The developer could have done just fine by simply developing the perimeter commercial property but chose to do a much larger scale project that would serve all of the residents of Flagler County for many years to come. Regarding your comment about creating jobs and paying for itself, maybe you misunderstood. I am not referring to jobs that could be created, I’m referring to the jobs that were in fact created and the the sales tax that has and is being collected as a direct result of the Town Center development. If you have time you can see for yourself. Go to the Publix, Target, Epic Theatre and Hilton Garden all located at the Town Center and speak to all of the owners of the multitude of thriving businesses and ask them how many people they employ. I think you will then start to understand my point. As far as the sales tax figures go, call the tax collector.

  15. SAW says:

    Oh Boy, in hind- sight , maybe they should have saved the money spent to send post cards to NYC lot owners, they will surely need every penny when this Taj goes over budget.
    Don’t forget to include future eletric bills also, better yet, why not move into one of the counties mega buildings out in Bunnell, appears they have plenty of unused space.

  16. Ken Dodge says:

    Re: Moving into a building “out in Bunnell.”

    State law prohibits municipalities from conducting their business outside the limits of the city where their constituents reside.

  17. Bill Hazz says:

    If we all just wait another year, maybe two, we will have our old city hall back from the magazine people when they lay off the last of their work force and leave town. We should be able to get that back for a “song.”

  18. Anonymous says:

    In our past referendum we the people said NO to city hall. With unemployment at 16% and businesses in bankruptcy shutting down their doors daily and showing in our strip malls the empty stores. All the foreclosed houses seating empty and eyesore for lack of maintenance, our drainage infrastructure becoming a danger for humans and animals in Palm Coast. When we call for services the reply is, that we have to wait because the city crews have been reduced due to budget cuts. Then they want to build a new city hall and on top of it with an outsourced developer. The 10 million is a “hook and reel in” figure just like happened years ago with the County Taj Mahal and the Courthouse the original approved figure almost double. Then the costly maintenance tab was added as a sticker shock, at the end. When this city council is going to stop Manager Landon and his quest for his own palace on our pockets? Maybe we need to go with our big NO signs and demonstrate in front of the city of Palm Coast offices and maybe they get the message then? Maybe they think that with city hall or not, the incumbents won’t get re-elected? Is this Mayor Netts brainstorm? Can someone tell me in what kind or Democracy we are living nowadays. What part of “NO to city hall” they don’t understand?

    Also moving out of the current city occupied offices they will create one more big clump of sad empty space in the former City Walk. This is no way to help our local businesses while pushing for Enterprise funding, to just do that.

  19. palm coaster says:

    In our past referendum we the people said NO to city hall. With unemployment at 16% and businesses in bankruptcy shutting down their doors daily and showing in our strip malls the empty stores. All the foreclosed houses seating empty and eyesore for lack of maintenance, our drainage infrastructure becoming a danger for humans and animals in Palm Coast. When we call for services the reply is, that we have to wait because the city crews have been reduced due to budget cuts. Then they want to build a new city hall and on top of it with an outsourced developer. The 10 million is a “hook and reel in” figure just like happened years ago with the County Taj Mahal and the Courthouse the original approved figure almost double. Then the costly maintenance tab was added as a sticker shock, at the end. When this city council is going to stop Manager Landon and his quest for his own palace on our pockets? Maybe we need to go with our big NO signs and demonstrate in front of the city of Palm Coast offices and maybe they get the message then? Can someone tell me in what kind or Democracy we are living nowadays. What part of “NO to city hall” they don’t understand?

    Also moving out of the current city occupied offices they will create one more big clump of sad empty space in the former City Walk. This is no way to help our local businesses while pushing for Enterprise funding, to just do that.

  20. Lin says:

    Thanks Jerry – I do understand the principle of “dedication” — and I will read the contract.

    But I thought that there was some sort of commitment (promise) made to the developers that we must build now. I am not against a city hall build, just not now in this economic climate.

    Yes, the “multitude of thriving businesses” employs people and there are sales taxes collected — but if the businesses are thriving, the businesses make a profit too. A win, win for all concerned. But I don’t understand how this pays for a city hall.

  21. . says:

    The ones that did vote NO on a new city hall ibelieve voted no on the cost and debt of building one not the idea of a real city hall. Just saying

  22. JMILLER@YAHOO.COM says:

    If they insist on building a new town hall why can’t they build it in the center of Palm Coast rather then on the south end…build it where it is easy for everyone to get to?

  23. Liana G says:

    “And that’s another point that I would like to make. With all of the sales tax revenues, impact and permit fees paid by the Town Center development, jobs created resulting in even more money spent back into the community, in the end won’t our new city hall pay for itself?”

    But we do not need a new city hall nor a 10 million dollar city hall to achieve this. So we do not need to spend this money. The jobs created by building a new city hall are not sustainable jobs. They will only last for a year / 18 months?? We need to create sustainable jobs and, jobs that pay decent wages. All these minimum wage service jobs are not going to cut it.

    This economic development plan is not economical at all!

  24. Steve says:

    Well now everyone knows who runs the city of Palm Coast and it’s not the Mayor or the city counsel. We are now blessed with our own Czar Mr Landon who simply knows better than the rest of us. Both he and his predecessor have run circles around the people and our elected officials for years as they build their own version of Bell California. Mr Landon is the undisputed king of Federal welfare. Oh that side walk , park didn’t cost us anything but now we have to have a parks dept. and and urban forester an event planner and on and on which will come out of our pockets not from a grant from uncle sam. We need someone who can build this city on a solid foundation not one that will exist on the handouts from the federal govt. . How long can we survive with the waitress at Steak n Shake going to the Ruby Tuesday who goes to the Dunkin Doughnut ect…. All hail Mr Landon!

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive
Loading

ADVERTISEMENTS

support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida

Subscribe to FlaglerLive

Get immediate notification of new stories.

Advertisement
Log in
| FlaglerLive, P.O. Box 354263, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4263 | 386/586-0257

FlaglerLive.com