by Marie Puleo, Pompano Beach Reporter
The Pompano Beach City Commission, at its meeting last Tuesday, passed a resolution to appropriate $9.6 million from the City’s Building Permit Fund for the construction of a proposed new Pompano Beach City Hall that would be the anchor of the Innovation District, an area of the Northwest CRA district that is being developed as part of a ‘new’ urban downtown.
The preliminary estimated cost of the new municipal complex is $96 million. The existing City Hall site would be for re-use or total redevelopment.
Over the past two fiscal years, the City’s Building Permit Fund has accumulated surplus funds due to the surge of building activity in the city. As per a new state statute, the surplus building permit funds must be allocated for an authorized purpose by July 1, 2019, and can only be used for expenditures related to the Building Department.
The City’s plan is to use the funds to cover the estimated site work and construction costs associated with the portion of the proposed new municipal complex that would be used by the Building Department, as well as its pro rata share of an accompanying 600-space parking garage.
“The idea of a new municipal complex is not something new,” said Assistant City Manager Suzette Sibble, who presented the agenda item to the City Commission.
Sibble explained that the concept originated in 2018, when City Manager Greg Harrison commissioned a consulting firm to carry out an assessment of the existing City Hall facility, with the intent to reconfigure and renovate it.
Sibble said it was soon realized that “we’re quickly outgrowing the current footprint at City Hall” and will not be able to accommodate the near-term personnel needs of the City or plan for future growth.
To best meet the City’s needs, it was determined that the existing building would require major expansion or the construction of a new City Hall complex altogether.
In a letter sent to the mayor, vice mayor and city commissioners earlier this month, City Manager Greg Harrison said: “After consulting with many experts over the past few years, I believe that the best course of action is for the City to build a government hub in the Innovation District or downtown core and relocate City Hall operations.”
Sibble said the City is looking to build an innovative, “urban municipal complex,” with community spaces and active uses, such as retail, on the ground floor.
According to Harrison, in his letter to the Commission, the City has contracted with a consulting firm to develop a conceptual master plan for the proposed municipal complex, which contemplates a 150,000-square-foot facility that, in addition to municipal offices, commission chambers and a parking garage, may include a 2.5-acre public event plaza.
The City is currently seeking a master developer for the downtown and the Innovation District, which is bound by I-95 to the west, Dixie Highway to the east, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (NW Third Street) to the north, and Atlantic Boulevard to the south.
The proposed municipal complex is mentioned in the solicitation for the master developer of the Innovation District, as well as in marketing materials for the Innovation District that have been in circulation for the past few months.
“I fully understand that there will be many questions about the proposed municipal complex at this point,” said Harrison in his letter to the Commission, “but as the City is still in its conceptual stages for this project, both the City Commission and residents can expect to see more information as the City engages discussions with a Master Developer for the entire Innovation District, over the next months.”
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