The future Manatee County library in Lakewood Ranch will eventually have two stories — doubling in size from original plans — and feature a 5,800-square-foot rooftop terrace for social events and gatherings.
Manatee County commissioners on June 16 unanimously approved an additional $337,600 to add those items to an agreement with contractor Willis A. Smith Construction, which is designing and building the library. That design and pre-construction services
agreement now will total $1.1 million.
The second level for the library increases total square footage from 24,000 to 50,000.
“It is much, much cheaper to go ahead and put the second story on the library when the library is being built,” Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. “In this way, we can go ahead and build the second story and have a shell until the library is really ready and the county has staffing to cover the upstairs.”
Manatee County Administrator Cheri Coryea said the second level will not be built out initially, though it still will be available for use as a large open space for large group library programs. It also could potentially be used for staff to use for shelter and operations for pre- and post-storm events.
Long-term, the space will be used for library operations as the library expands over the next 25 years. Coryea said the addition of the second level and terrace will add between $3.5 million to $4.5 million to the $10 million library project. Funding sources have not yet been determined.
Coryea said the rooftop terrace was proposed by Willis Smith and county staff members during the design process. Manatee County has a balcony at its Downtown Central Library location that is used for after-hour events, such as cocktail parties, small author events and even rooftop gardening programs.
“We want each library to have a unique feature they can call their own that sets them apart from all others, and this would be theirs,” Coryea said.
There also will be an outdoor courtyard walking area and a water feature, Coryea said.
Coryea said the new library’s design will use spacing, instead of walls, to create special patron areas and ensure there is universal visibility wherever possible.
Under the changes approved by commissioners June 16, Willis Smith also will design a 200-space remote parking lot with lighting to be used both for the future library, as well as other activities on county property.
The future $10 million library, funded through a voter-approved infrastructure sales tax, is to be located on county-owned property north of the existing Premier Sports Campus, roughly south of Rangeland Parkway between Post Boulevard and the future Uihlein Road.
Manatee County has 74.5 acres there it intends to develop in phases over the next 10-15 years as a sports complex.