The Village of Royal Palm Beach plans to start building a new Village Hall next year, and residents and interested parties are invited to attend a conceptual design public input meeting to be held Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center.
Attendees will be provided with a presentation, including a short video, and be asked to provide comments, input and suggestions as the village builds for the future.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said he looks forward to hearing what the public has to say about the project.
“Our staff and architects can carefully study something and come up with great ideas, but public involvement is key,” he said. “Someone from the public invariably has an idea what will make things better. In fact, I regard the rebuilding of the Cultural Center as a huge success exactly because members of the public brought some wonderful ideas that we incorporated into final design. Public input helped turn a good design into a wonderful design that we can all be proud of.”
While it has been renovated several times since, the existing Village Hall was built in 1976. Back then, Okeechobee Blvd. was a sleepy, two-lane country road and the village boasted only about 2,800 residents. Since then, the population of the village has increased more than tenfold to about 40,000, and Okeechobee Blvd. in front of Village Hall boasts nine lanes at its intersection with Royal Palm Beach Blvd. In fact, that intersection is one of the busiest in the county.
Just over a decade ago, to alleviate cramped conditions, Royal Palm Beach constructed a separate lakeside Village Meeting Hall building for the council chambers, which freed up new office space for staff.
Last year, due to the aging building infrastructure and regulatory issues such as non-compliance of certain spaces with the Americans with Disabilities Act, village staff conducted a comprehensive study on whether it made better sense for taxpayers to build a new Village Hall or, alternatively, enlarge and rebuild the existing facilities. A cost analysis showed that a complete razing and rebuild of Village Hall is the most cost-efficient option going forward.
“One key advantage to this new building is that it will be designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh said. “This means that the village will be able to continue to provide services to the general public immediately before and after storms.”
The village sent out a competitive request for qualifications (RFQ) for an architectural firm, and the council awarded the design contract to REG Associates, a West Palm Beach firm with a résumé of successfully completed projects for West Palm Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach County and a wide variety of other governmental buildings.
“The village has given the green light to REG Associates to begin designing the new Village Hall project,” Liggins said. “It’s time to put pen to paper and see what it 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.”
The new building will be designed to be more energy efficient, take up less of a footprint and consolidate all operations into a one-stop shop.
The new facility will still incorporate the U.S. Post Office annex, which is one major reason residents visit, 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 remain unchanged.
Construction of the approximately $6 million project is currently scheduled to begin at the end of 2020 and take about a year and a half.
“I am proud that this is the last piece of major infrastructure that the village needs for some time,” Liggins said. “We built Commons Park, we rebuilt the Cultural Center and now we are going to build a new Village hall, all without borrowing money or raising taxes.”
The Village Hall conceptual design public input meeting is set for Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cultural Center, located at 151 Civic Center Way. For more info., visit www.royalpalmbeach.com.