By Jane Smith
To make way for the ambitious Town Square project, Boynton Beach will operate its library, City Hall, Fire Station 1 and police headquarters out of temporary buildings mostly in Quantum Park, off Gateway Boulevard and west of Interstate 95.
City commissioners approved the leases in mid-April by a 3-1 vote. Mayor Steven Grant was absent. Commissioner Joe Casello cast the dissenting vote.
“Everything was fast-tracked, rushed,” he said after the meeting. “I wanted more time to vet the leases to make sure we are getting a good deal when spending taxpayer dollars.”
The city will pay a total of about $2.2 million to lease temporary space, City Manager Lori LaVerriere said.
The library will move first, starting in June. It will be split into two locations.
A nearby annex for children will occupy the first floor of a two-story office building at 209 N. Seacrest Blvd., owned by lawyer Michael Weiner. The main library will rent 23,000 square feet at 2045 High Ridge Road, as a sublease from Fantasy Chocolates.
“The annex will be for the kids. Most of them live nearby,” said Craig Clark, library director.
The children’s library annex rent will be $8,360 a month for 4,579 square feet, or $167,200 for 20 months, the anticipated construction time, said Tim Howard, assistant city manager/finance.
Three AmeriCorps volunteers, four full-time youth services staff and a few part-timers will work there, Clark said.
The main library sublease cost will be $25,975 per month, or $519,500 for 20 months, Howard said. Operating expenses for utilities and maintenance are extra.
Boynton Beach does not include operating costs for the existing buildings in its budget, said Colin Groff, assistant city manager in charge of Town Square. “When you rent space, your costs are about 20 to 30 percent higher,” he said after the commission meeting.
The city used a commercial real estate broker to help find the space, Groff said. But because it didn’t want to rent space for at least five years, the city was limited to subleases for the short-term stays, he said.
The temporary library won’t have a program room, Clark said. That means no brown-bag lunch presentations during the season and no craft programs. It will have space for the quilters, the Friends of the Library used books and DVD store, he said.
Fire crew will move last
Fire Station 1, which also serves Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes, will divide its staff and vehicles between Station 4 on South Federal Highway and Station 5 on High Ridge Road.
“We will be the last to leave,” Fire Chief Glenn Joseph said after the commission meeting. The departure time is anticipated for early August. One lieutenant and two firefighter paramedics with a rescue vehicle will work out of the South Federal Highway station, he said.
About 70 percent of the emergency calls are medical, Joseph said. The fire truck and three staff members (lieutenant and two firefighter paramedics) will work out of Station 5.
Joseph expects response times to increase by 30 seconds. His team will monitor them and if they rise over one minute, the team will look for space east of I-95. Joseph knows it won’t be easy to find a building big enough for the truck.
He expects to be in the temporary space for about 18 months, although Groff is trying to reduce that time by a third. New fire stations are easy to design and build, both men said.
The temporary City Hall will have 23,000 square feet at 3301 Quantum Blvd. at a monthly rental rate of $42,166.67. That rent will begin Aug. 1. The amount for 20 months will be $843,333 plus expenses.
The City Hall lease comes with a $46,000 build-out credit. The library build-out is estimated to cost $25,000.
The temporary City Hall does not have a room for City Commission and board meetings. Most will be held at the city-owned Intracoastal Park clubhouse on Federal Highway or the community room in Fire Station 5 on High Ridge Road, Groff said.
The city will have to publicize the new locations in several ways, Groff told commissioners. Signs will be important particularly in Quantum Park, where it’s easy to get lost, he said.
The police headquarters will be at 3602-3606 Quantum Blvd., renting 27,300 square feet for a monthly rate of $24,501.75. It’s a sublease from World Wide Ticket and Labels Inc.
Estimated build-out costs are $250,000 because the department has to construct holding cells and detective rooms.
Rec programs moved
Town Square, a mix of civic buildings and privately owned apartment buildings and a hotel, will be built during the next few years on 16 acres fronting Boynton Beach Boulevard.
The historic high school is part of the project. Its opening date is set for January. Plans call for the high school to be used for recreation programs on the ground floor and weddings and other events on the second floor.
The recreation programs that were in the soon-to-be-demolished Civic Center were moved in January to various city parks, Groff said after the commission meeting.
In other Town Square-related news, city commissioners, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency board, agreed unanimously to pay $3 million for 1.3 acres from the Congregational United Church of Christ.
The church has been losing members and needs to downsize, Fred Birdsall, a church spokesman, told the CRA board on April 10. The church hopes to find new space within the city.
The parcels sit between Ocean Avenue and Boynton Beach Boulevard and are split by Northeast First Avenue. The church sits on the larger parcel on the southern side.
The city owns a parcel next to the parking lot on the north side of Northeast First Avenue. The purchase will allow the CRA to build a parking garage to serve Town Square; a planned Tri-Rail Coastal Link station on the other side of the FEC tracks; the nearly complete 500 Ocean apartment complex on Ocean Avenue, and the planned Villages of East Ocean mixed-use project. The deal is expected to close by the end of May.
One sticking point may be the stained glass windows and cross in the church. They were designed by famed artist Conrad Pickel.
Both the CRA and the church congregation want the windows. The CRA would back down if its desire caused the deal to fall apart, members agreed.
The deal allows the church to stay in the building until Dec. 15 and pay the CRA monthly rent of $15. Church members will be responsible for the utility expenses and repairs up to $20,000.
On the move
Library: To 2045 High Ridge Road; children’s annex to 209 N. Seacrest Blvd. In June.
Police, City Hall: To Quantum Park, off Gateway Boulevard and west of Interstate 95. Leases begin Aug. 1 if build-out is complete.
Commission, board meetings: Intracoastal Park clubhouse on Federal Highway or community room in Fire Station 5 on High Ridge Road.
Fire Station 1: Staff, vehicles to divide between Station 4 on South Federal and Station 5. Early August.