Marco Island buys Medical Arts Center for $2.23M to house building department
Marco Island on Friday completed the $2.23 million purchase of the Medical Arts Center to house the city's building department, City Manager Mike McNees wrote in an email.
"The newly-configured City Hall campus will represent significant service upgrades for the citizens of Marco Island for years to come," McNees wrote Monday.
The about 9,100-square-foot building, next to the City Hall campus on 1310 San Marco Road, would become a service center for people requesting permits from the building department, McNees said in October.
The department currently is 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 made the purchase using equal amounts of reserves from the building department funds and general fund, McNees said.
McNees said renovating the first floor of the two-story 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 in October. "They really don't have proper space."
The building and growth management departments had about a dozen employees when the city opened the City Hall building in 2001, said Laura Litzan, city clerk. The departments now have about double that.
These departments are processing more projects than they did two decades ago, according to Daniel Smith, director of community affairs with the growth department.
For example, the building department evaluated 3,725 permit requests in 2001, compared to 8,023 last year, Smith wrote in an email in October.
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 building also would 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 department building might start in the first quarter of next year, Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne said in October.
On Monday, Byrne said the Fire Station 50 project will be discussed by City Council on Jan. 4 and by the planning board on Jan. 15.
"Following those two meetings, we should have a better idea about the relocation schedule," Byrne said.
In the long run, the Medical Arts Center building could accommodate the growth management and information and technology departments, McNees said in October.
City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni wrote in an email Monday the city is "exploring opportunities to place satellite offices for some key (Collier) County services" in the newly purchased building.
"All of these improvements will provide a benefit to our Marco Island citizens by helping make their interaction with our city and other local government services more convenient and efficient," Grifoni wrote.
The county satellite offices being considered are Clerk of Court, Supervisor of Elections and for the District 1 County Commissioner, McNees wrote.
The city received last month a second appraisal of the center that estimated its value at $2.22 million, while an initial appraisal made earlier this year estimated its value at $2.25 million.
Before the second appraisal, City Council unanimously approved the purchase for $2.25 million during a council meeting in October.
According to state law, the city could only pay the average of the two appraisals, so the city went back to the seller to see if he would agree to the new price, McNees said.
The seller is Medical Arts Center of Marco Island LLC, managed by Russell E. Stephens.
"This property will provide for the administrative needs of the City of Marco Island far into the future," McNees wrote.