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Sarasota County commissioners have been unanimous in decisions moving forward homeless solutions pitched by consultant Robert Marbut.
Siesta Key Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014 6 years ago

Homeless shelter costs exceed $8 million

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

Sarasota County and city commissioners will hold a joint meeting Monday to discuss plans for a come-as-you-are homeless shelter, during which staff will discuss construction and operating costs.

Estimated construction costs for a shelter at 1800 N. East Ave. are $8.9 million, while building at 1330 N. Osprey Ave. is expected to cost $9.2 million, according to a memo dated June 23 to commissioners. The process from contract to opening the facility will take roughly 22 months.

“Your construction costs are unbelievably high,” said County Commissioner Nora Patterson in a June 19 email to Director of Homeless Services Wayne Applebee. The estimated cost for a 31,000-square-foot building, as recommended by consultant Robert Marbut, comes to $233 per square foot — at least $50 more than the cost per square foot of the Jewel, a luxury condominium under construction downtown, according to a city of Sarasota building permit issued April 3.

The two parcels staff are currently exploring have issues with environmental mititgation and the structural capability of soil, among other obstacles, which have pushed site-development costs to be larger than typical construction projects, Applebee said. Each property will require at least $1.6 million of site-development work, which equates to roughly 22% of total construction costs.

"There are atypical site-development costs that aren’t in a lot of types of construction, not to mention the Osprey site has the $600,000 price tag," Applebee said. 

“The challenge in siting services such as a homeless shelter lies in the location, which is usually driven by the need to reduce or minimize the impact on the neighborhood,” said the memo from Assistant County Administrator Lee Ann Lowery and Applebee. “As a result, these facilities are often in locations where there are numerous challenges to construction, but less impact on the neighborhood.”

The city has taken the position that the county should pay for construction of the homeless shelter but has pledged $289,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds toward the facility. City staff has also suggested the county be responsible for 87% of operations funding.

The shelter will require at least a $1.2 million annual operating budget, which will double if meals aren’t provided in-kind and case management isn’t funded through other sources, like they are at Pinellas Safe Harbor, a come-as-you-are facility in Pinellas County.

Personnel at the proposed come-as-you-are shelter would include two case managers, two security officers and 11 full-time employees, according to supporting materials for Monday's meeting.

"We have a strong belief that we will have an ability to provide in-kind food,” Applebee said, though that may not cover every meal served at the facility.

Construction esimates include $800,000 for design, engineering and permitting fees, $200,000 for project management and $50,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, among other development costs for both sites.

At recent meetings, city commissioners have expressed doubt about Marbut's recommendations, even voting to reinstate homeless outreach teams after he advised against running such a program before a shelter is in place. The critique in the June 23 memo comes from city staff.

“City staff has expressed concerns that Dr. Marbut’s criteria did not take into consideration any city criteria," wrote City Manager Tom Barwin in an email to Applebee. "Dr. Marbut’s criteria is too limiting and threatens to risk creating an additional burden on city government, densely populated neighborhoods and the increasingly busy downtown commerce district."

What: Sarasota County/City Commission joint meeting
When: 1 p.m. Monday, June 23
Where: Commission Chambers, Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota 

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