The Royal Palm Beach Village Council awarded a bid of $12,894,392 for the construction of a new village hall to Verdex Construction on Thursday, Aug. 19.
Verdex was the lowest bidder on the project. The council also authorized the transfer of $3.5 million from its undesignated fund to the village hall construction project to cover the difference between its budgeted $9.9 million and the actual cost of $12.9 million.
“Unfortunately, because of material labor costs, it came in greater than we had anticipated,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh said.
Marsh pointed out that the planned village hall would have multiple features, including storm-hardened emergency capabilities. According to a recent study by an independent consultant, the new building could be built before the old village hall is demolished, with minimal displacement of workers in the old building.
“Creating a new building with a multistory design would create a smaller footprint that would be better for the environment,” he said. “We have a large enough campus that we can build a new building and then demolish the existing building.”
Marsh added that the new building would create more space with a centralized lobby that would serve the public better and allow staff to interact more efficiently.
“This new building allows us to create the perfect space for what the staff will need 50 to 60 years from now,” he said. “The older building, when it was built 45 years ago, didn’t have the same energy code or structural design to withstand hurricane-force winds that we’re seeing nowadays. That’s another huge advantage. The energy efficiency that you will gain will be tremendous with this new space.”
Marsh added that the cost per square foot would be cheaper by constructing an entirely new building.
The council chambers would be moved to the new building, with the capability of expanding the meeting room to the lobby to allow space for meetings with large attendance, and double as the incident command center during emergencies.
“There’s a lot of dual uses in this new building that we’re creating,” he said.
A plaza with a fountain would be created nearby for parking and holding outdoor events, such as the green market. The existing village meeting hall would be repurposed as a scenic facility for public use.
“By renovating the building that we’re in tonight, by opening up the wall behind you, we’re able to make this a really nice gathering space,” Marsh said.
The floor space on the 16.58-acre campus would be increased from 14,756 square feet to 28,380 square feet.
In December 2020, a contractor was hired to do a detailed estimate for the project, and based on that estimate, staff felt a budget of $9.9 million would be adequate, but due to current material and labor costs, the lowest bidder came in at $12,894,392.
Final completion of the project is projected for December 2023.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said money to offset the $3.5 million may be available through the American Rescue Plan Act.
“We do not have those dollars yet, but we should be getting an agreement from the state any day,” Liggins said, adding that some municipalities have received their money.
He said that during the COVID-19 crisis, staff had included protective measures in the design of the new building.
“Because they are responding to the health crisis — things like the council chambers, the EOC, the larger lobby, the communications that we added to it, the larger plaza for outdoor events — they do qualify for the ARP money,” Liggins said.
Councilwoman Selena Samios made a motion to approve the transfer of $3.5 million from the undesignated fund to the village hall construction project, which carried 5-0.
Samios also made a motion to award the bid to Verdex Construction for construction of the new building, which carried 5-0.
In other business, the council voted 3-2 not to add the long-discussed Madrid Street connection to State Road 7 to the capital budget, and instead move forward with completing a connection of La Mancha Avenue to Okeechobee Blvd. to relieve traffic congestion in the La Mancha neighborhood. Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas made the motion not to include the funding, noting that the council could change that decision at any time. Samios and Councilwoman Jan Rodusky were the dissenting votes.