The Village of Royal Palm Beach continues to actively seek input from residents and interested parties as its architectural team starts design on a new Village Hall. On Thursday, Feb. 13, dozens of village officials and consultants were on hand to brief the public and get their ideas at the Village Hall Conceptual Design public input meeting held at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center.
While only a small handful of residents showed up for the meeting, people are still invited to comment online through the village’s web site.
Mayor Fred Pinto opened the meeting by expressing excitement for the new Village Hall project. He briefed the audience on the history of the plan that started out originally as a study on how to upgrade the existing building to bring it into compliance with modern regulations. However, the engineering and cost feasibility studies revealed that a new building could be completed for approximately $6 million — about $500,000 less than the cost of rebuilding and upgrading the existing structure that dates back to 1976.
The village sent out a competitive request for qualifications (RFQ) for an architectural firm, which was awarded to REG Architects, a West Palm Beach firm that has successfully completed projects for West Palm Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach County and a wide variety of other governmental entities.
Village Manager Ray Liggins welcomed those in attendance at the input meeting.
“It’s time to put pen to paper and see what a new Village Hall might look like. We want to create a public space that is user friendly, full of trees and attractive landscaping, and one that will be a source of civic pride,” he said.
Architect Rick Gonzalez took the podium and welcomed the residents in attendance, sharing information about his experience designing government buildings.
Guests were treated to snacks and provided with “green dots” that they were invited to affix to “whatever they like about” various renderings of municipal buildings that were posted around the room.
While it has been renovated several times since, the existing Royal Palm Beach Village Hall was built in 1976. Back then, the village boasted only about 2,800 residents. Since then, the population of the village has increased to more than 40,000. About 15 years ago, the village expanded the space by building a stand-alone council chambers nearby that sits on a quiet lake. That freed up room in the existing building for additional office space.
Plans for the new Village Hall include building a new council chambers and turning the existing chambers into a meeting/event space that the public can rent out.
In his presentation, Gonzalez said that he wants to design the parking lot area between the new building and the existing council chambers as a versatile public space that might serve as “Royal Palm Beach’s living room.”
“Just as Lake Worth calls the casino area that REG rebuilt as their ‘living room,’ we want to design something that Royal Palm Beach might refer to as their living room,” he said.
Village officials stressed the utility of the new structure.
“One key advantage to this new building is that it will be designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh explained. “This means that the village will be able to continue to provide services to the general public immediately before and after storms.”
The new building will also be designed to be more energy efficient, take up less of a footprint and consolidate all operations into a one-stop shop.
Madison Green resident Joanne Diasio was among the residents attending the meeting.
“This project excites me,” she said. “All the new building going on right now, such as the nursing home, means that people are investing in my village. I like that they are bringing their money here.”
Resident Judy Devonish attended the meeting to stay up to date on plans for her community.
“I live in a nearby neighborhood and decided to come out because I like to know what’s going on,” she said. “The only way to really know what’s going on is to come out to these things.”
The new facility will still incorporate the U.S. Post Office annex, which is one major reason that residents visit Village Hall, along with the licensing and building permit offices that also attract and serve large numbers of the public.
The nearby David B. Farber Training Center and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office substation will only undergo cosmetic changes so that their color schemes match the new civic campus anchored by the new Village Hall.
Information about the new Village Hall project is available online, and members of the public are invited to comment at www.royalpalmbeach.com.