Marco Island closer to buying Medical Arts Center after second appraisal

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

The city of Marco Island received earlier this month a second appraisal of the Medical Arts Center building that estimated its value at $2.22 million, bringing the city one step closer to a final purchase.

The news comes after City Council unanimously approved the purchase for $2.25 million during a council meeting last month following an initial appraisal made earlier this year.

City Manager Mike McNees said state law dictates what can happen next.

"According to the law, we can only pay the average of the two appraisals so we will have to talk to the seller and see if they will agree to that," McNees said.

The average of both appraisals is $2,235,000 or $15,000 less than the original purchase agreement.

If the agreed purchase price exceeds the average appraised price of the two appraisals, City Council is required to approve the purchase by a two-thirds vote of council members voting.

The city's deadline to terminate the contract if an agreement can't be made is Monday, but both parties can agree to extend it, McNees said.

"I know they want to close before the end of this year," he said.

The building inspection process has not been finalized, but the city expects to complete it "in the next couple of days," according to Casey Lucius, assistant to the city manager. 

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

More:Marco Island City Council approves $2.25M purchase of Medical Arts Center building

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

The approximately 9,100-square-foot building, located next to the City Hall campus, would become a service center for people requesting permits from the building and growth management departments, McNees said last month.

The departments are currently located in the City Hall building, which was acquired by the city in 2001.

"You can't walk through there in the middle of a workday because there are too many people," McNees said.

The city would make the purchase using equal amounts of reserves from the building department funds and general funds, McNees said.

McNees said renovating the first floor of the building will cost $200,000 to $300,000.

The need for more office space did not happen overnight but instead took almost two decades.

"Over the course of the last few years their staffing has ramped up to deal with the demand for permits," McNees said last month. "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 processing more projects 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 last month.

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 last month.

In the long run, the Medical Arts Center building could also accommodate the information and technology department, 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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