New bid posting for Fernandina Beach City Hall space needs assessment and design

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 21, 2020

The City of Fernandina Beach has issued RFQ 2020-01 as it begins consideration of ways to resolve space problems. For complete bid information, click here.

Based upon the non-availability of the USPS site, the City of Fernandina Beach wishes to examine other opportunities to locate/consolidate City government operations. City administrative staff is currently located in several different locations: City Manager, City Clerk, Building, Planning & Conservation, and Human Resources are at City Hall (204 Ash Street); City Attorney, Finance, Code Enforcement, Fire, and Information Technology are at the Peck Center (516 S. 10th Street); Utility Billing is at 1180 S. 5th Street.

Fernandina Beach City Hall today

The condition of the existing City Hall Building is not good.  It was built at a time when there was not a need for extensive wiring for communications and technology.  Due to the absence of code requirements in the early years,  a number of the later additions were of poorer quality and materials than the original portion of the building, they have begun to deteriorate and fail. Between the failing additions and the space constraints that challenge housing a modern, professional city staff, actions will need to be taken soon.

Early view of original City Hall

Sal Cumellla, Preservation Planner for the City of Fernandina Beach, recently provided results of his research into the history of the current City Hall building at 204 Ash Street. Constructed in 1904, this building has served as the hub of civic life in Fernandina for 116 years. It originally housed all local government function including Police, Fire, Public Works, and the City Managers offices.  The building sits on 8 underlying lots of records.

Cumella’s complete report, which contains much history and many photos courtesy of the Amelia Island Museum of History, may be viewed here.

Throughout the mid-1900s, various City Departments were moved from the building, including the Police Station, Public Works Department, and, in later years, the City Commission Chambers.

Renovation work underway in the 1950’s

The building was significantly altered in 1956, in an effort to “modernize” the structure. The new design removed and obscured the original design of the structure in favor of a mid-century modern design, which was the architectural style chosen for all Fernandina Beach’s civic buildings, such as the Atlantic Rec Center.

The 1956 renovation, which cost $19,572, added a new wing to the west elevation. The building was altered to remove archways, towers, and chimneys; the exterior brick was resurfaced with stucco. Windows were replaced and the structure was reroofed. The municipal courtroom was remodeled to serve as Courtroom/ Commission Chambers. A 
vault was installed for City records, which had previously been kept in the attic.

1971 Renovation

A second renovation in 1971 (cost unknown) added an east wing to the building to accommodate the Rescue unit and provide an office for the Fire Chief. Relocated a number of times throughout the building, City Commission Chambers moved to the Police Station across the street in 1972. This was once the site of a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

The last renovation occurred in 1995 at a cost of $350,000. City approved the relocation of the Fire Department to new Fire Station #1 on 14th Street. This allowed for the return of City Commission Chambers to the remodeled fire truck bays City Hall. The City replaced all building components including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and communication lines. Also added were ADA restrooms, an elevator, a landscaped parking lot, three interior customer service counters, a drive-up window with night depository, and a drive up public notice board. Most work was performed by City employees through the Public Works Department.

The City is currently seeking qualified professionals for the following tasks (to be completed sequentially, if appropriate):

1. An analysis of current space utilized by City administrative space, including offices, common space, and related storage and an assessment of the amount of space needed for future government operations.
2. Based upon successful completion of Task 1, a site assessment of the current City Hall and the possible use of adjacent City-owned properties (although not abutting) for a new facility (to be used in conjunction with or in place of the current facility).
3. Based upon successful completion of Task 2, designs for the renovation of the current City Hall and, if deemed appropriate and necessary, a new facility to be located on the adjacent properties (to be used in conjunction with or in place of the current facility). The sites (identified by PIN 00-00-31-1800-0270-0010 [current City Hall], 00-00-31- 1800-0271-0010, and 00-00-31-1800-0271-0011) have challenging characteristics, being both located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (requiring compliance with appropriate floodplain regulations) and within the City’s Historic District (requiring compliance with appropriate design standards). Experience with both aspects is required for consideration of qualifications.

The City of Fernandina Beach, FL will receive sealed qualifications at the location stated below not later than 2:00pm, March 13, 2020.

Those interested in providing this service are instructed to submit (1 original, 5 copies and 1 electronic version [compact disc or thumb drive]) relevant qualifications pertinent to the scope of work. Received submittals will be opened at 2:15 PM, March 13, 2020. An Evaluation Committee will review the submittals and provide a recommendation to the City Commission.

The original Qualification submittal (1 original, 5 copies and 1 electronic version, [cd or thumb drive]) must be delivered to City Hall in a sealed package, clearly marked on the outside, RFQ #2020-01 and addressed to:

City of Fernandina Beach
Attn: City Clerk’s Office – RFQ# 2020-01 204 Ash Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Hand delivered Submittal is to be taken to the Clerk’s Office at the above address.
Any submittal received after the above stated time and date will not be considered. It shall be the sole responsibility of the Submitter to have its submittal delivered to the City of Fernandina Beach, by U.S. Mail, hand delivery or any other method available to him/her; however, facsimile or electronic submittals will not be accepted. Delay in delivery shall be the sole responsibility of the Submitter.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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Joe L Blanchard
Joe L Blanchard(@jlblan2)
3 years ago

I have idea why the City does not consider building a City Hall/Police Station on the site of the old hospital on north 14th street. The property is extensive in size and already owned by the government. Then the current City Hall could be turned into a museum and provide additional parking. The 14th street property has easy access from all over the city and is on high ground.

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_56700)
3 years ago

Great idea Joe. Certainly worth investigating.

The City missed a great opportunity with the Fernandina Lumber site a few years ago and it (hopefully) looks like they’ve given up on the old Post Office (a.k.a. Money Pit) and the financial boondoggle that would initiate.

Still, you never know. They managed to effortlessly turn a two million dollar airport terminal into a four million dollar project.

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_56702)
3 years ago

“extensive wiring for communications and rechnology”? DUH has anyone advised City staff of wireless routers? Is anyone going to STOP the ever expanding budget of this ever expanding city government? Building a mystery…..again at our expense.

Management is managing to govern within ones means. This has not been happening here for years. More $$ to buy more parks!!!!! Ever gone past any of these? Ever see anyone? Hell with a multimillion dollar “City Hall” maybe I’ll get the job of Town Greeter. I am sure like the $6 million all in price of the “welcome center” at the airport(another white elephant which no one goes to)I’ll need it to pay the 3x tax bill~~~oh no~~~~”special assessment”. Hummmmm maybe convert the Welcome Center to a Work Center for city employees!!!

Libery will be lost in small snippets and small tax increases. Brace yourselves folk because when this administration wants something(like a teenager wanting a new and shinny car) they are of a one track mind……..”I want it so I’ll get it.