Marco Island City Council to consider $2.25M purchase of Medical Arts Center building

The Medical Arts Center is pictured, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, on 1310 San Marco Road, Marco Island.

Marco Island City Council will consider on Oct. 19 an agreement to purchase the Medical Arts Center building next to the City Hall campus for $2.25 million.

The building would become a service center for people requesting permits from the building and growth management departments, City Manager Mike McNees said Thursday.

Following council approval, the city would inspect the building and complete other procedures before the purchase becomes official, McNees said.

The city would pay for it using equal amounts of reserves from the building department funds and general funds, he said.

City hall campus at Bald Eagle Drive and San Marco Road.

"Over the course of the last few years their staffing has ramped up to deal with the demand for permits," McNees said. "They really don't have proper space."

The building and growth management departments had 11.5 full-time equivalent employees when the city opened the City Hall building in 2001, said Laura Litzan, city clerk. The departments now have 24.5 full-time equivalent employees.

These departments are now processing more cases than they did two decades ago, according to Daniel Smith, director of community affairs.

For example, the building department evaluated 3,725 permit requests in 2001, compared to 8,023 last year, Smith wrote in an email Thursday.

Smith wrote that 2018 and 2019 were "high-spike years" because many structures needed repairs after Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island in 2017.

"On average we are about 6,000 cases per year," he wrote.

The Medical Arts Center would also temporarily house firefighters as the city builds a new $10.4 million to $11.7 million fire-rescue and emergency center, McNees said.

The demolition of the fire-rescue building may start in the first quarter of next year, Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne said.

Russell E. Stephens, owner of the Medical Arts Center building, declined to answer what would happen to his tenants.

"I'm restrained from talking about this because I have a non-disclosure agreement with the city," he said Friday. "We have a pending sales contract that is yet to be ratified."

In the long run, the Medical Arts Center building could also accommodate city staff from other departments, McNees said.

"The city really would be set up in perpetuity for whatever flexible space or office space we need to accommodate the future," he said.

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