Commissioners hope to relocate the administrative building, currently on Ringling Boulevard, to Cattlemen Road.
Sarasota County leaders are hoping to move ahead with plans to pack up and move out of their downtown headquarters.
The commission was presented with two potential sites on Cattlemen Road for a new building, and commissioners said the project, which would allow them to leave the current building at 1660 Ringling Blvd., should be fast-tracked.
“Get us out of this building,” Commissioner Al Maio said. “That’s my one vote: Get us out of this building.”
Commissioners began talking about relocating during their December 2019 board retreat. The current administration building was constructed in 1973 and was sold to the county for approximately $5.6 million in 1993, after it underwent renovations in 1990.
There is need for a new building, county staff told commissioners, because renovations and maintenance on the current building could cost more than construction at a new site.
The county’s general services department staff estimated that renovations and maintenance would cost $32.5 million over the next 10 years and $49 million for the next 20 years.
Additionally, the building, which is located less than a mile from the bayfront, is not built to withstand a major hurricane.
Commissioners heard presentations for two sites near I-75 on Cattlemen Road, one at 1301 Cattlemen Road and one at 101 Cattlemen Road.
The property at 101 Cattlemen Road has about 2 million square feet of land, with 275,000 square feet in existing buildings. It also is zoned for industrial use and would need to be rezoned for governmental use.
The property at 1301 Cattlemen Road is county-owned and comprises 278,000 total square feet. Existing structures on the property take up 30,000 square feet.
Commissioners preferred the site at 1301 Cattlemen Road because of its proximity to the county’s Emergency Operations Center.
“Think of the efficiencies if we had this building right now next to our EOC, with what we’re going through,” Commissioner Charles Hines said.
Commissioner Christian Ziegler said the new building’s proximity to I-75 also could make it more easily accessible to residents in South County.
Commissioners agreed the new location could bring more benefits than an up-to-date, centrally located building. They also said the county and the city could look forward to increased property tax revenue when the downtown property is developed.
Commissioners anticipate the lot, which is zoned Downtown Core, would likely be used to build a high-rise condominium complex. The zoning of the building would allow a 10-story residential structure with parking levels underneath.
According to county documents, a property appraiser listed the market value of the property at $38.8 million. The estimated square footage of a potential new building is 553,620.
During a May 21 budget workshop, Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho estimated the building has a taxable value of $218 per square foot. This would mean the city could receive an additional $400,000 a year in ad valorem tax revenue, and the county could collect $393,000 in property tax revenue on the property if a condo is built.
Additionally, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said the new building would generate impact fee revenue that could help many budgets that utilize impact fee revenue.
“This is a gift that will keep giving,” Maio said.
Commissioner Hines agreed, stating that the condo complex also would bring residents who would shop and eat downtown.
“Right now it’s not creating any economic value or ad valorem value to our area,” Hines said. “This is the win-win-win.”