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Historic downtown Oldsmar bank building undergoes green renovation to house City Council

OLDSMAR — When it re-opens this summer as the new home of the City Council Chambers, the historic Oldsmar bank building that has stood at the southwest corner of State Street and Park Boulevard for more than nine decades will be a hybrid of vintage good looks and pro-environmental design.

Call it, perhaps, green revival architecture.

"This will be the city's first green building," said Julie Foster, the city's sustainability coordinator. "We're aiming to have it LEED certified."

The certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, measures how well a building conserves water and energy, protects indoor air quality, helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions and so forth. It must also be constructed or renovated in ways sensitive to the environment.

"It was the vision of the city manager and City Council to adopt LEED standards for the building," wrote Holly LiBaire, the city's communications and marketing administrator, in an e-mail.

The main portion of the two-story building opened in 1919 as Oldsmar's first bank. Its whitish-gray exterior retains its iconic look of a bygone era.

"The white glazed bricks were imported from Italy," said council member Jerry Beverland, who has penned two books on the history of Oldsmar. "They are very rare."

Shortly after the bank was built, another smaller building was annexed on the west side.

In 1921, residents flocked to the second story to avoid flood waters from a major hurricane, Beverland said.

Besides serving as a bank, the notable structure has housed a grocery, post office, apartments and City Hall.

Most recently, it housed Oldsmar's library, but the building developed structural problems. In 1999, the north wall began to bow and had to be propped up until it could be rebuilt. City officials determined the structure was too small, anyway, for a library, so the city opened a much larger library on St. Petersburg Drive in 2008.

The building was structurally restored a couple of years ago and current renovations began in September.

The design, by Hoffman Architects of Tarpon Springs, expands the west side of the building just slightly. When complete it will have more than 8,500 square feet of interior space.

The first floor will contain offices for the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, community resource officers and the Oldsmar Historical Society. Original floor tiles are being restored in place to serve as the foyer of the historical society's office.

The upstairs will house the Council Chambers as well as an area for city work sessions.

As the building undergoes its $2 million transformation, funded primarily by Penny for Pinellas, efforts are being made to reduce waste. Old doors, fixtures and sinks were donated to Habitat for Humanity. Construction debris is being sorted — concrete, wood, metal, plastic — into trash bins and paper for recycling.

"To date, the project has already kept over 142 tons of waste out of the landfill," Foster said.

New wood for the building is certified from the Forest Stewardship Council, meaning it was responsibly harvested and came from verified sources.

One part of the new west facade will feature walls of glass so that daylight can stream into the building. A 5- by 5-foot etched glass window on the second floor will feature the city's seal.

In what is referred to as "daylight harvesting," sensors will determine the amount of natural light in the building and adjust levels of artificial light automatically for energy savings. High-efficiency LED lights in the elevator will only turn on when it is occupied.

Low-flow toilets and faucets and high-efficiency air conditioners are being installed.

To optimize indoor air quality, building materials such as paint and carpet will contain little, if any, volatile organic compounds that can emit harmful chemicals.

Designated areas will hold bins for mandatory recycling of paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and cardboard.

Asphalt from the parking area on the west side will be removed and recycled. The new parking lot will be built with permeable pavers to allow rainfall to be absorbed into the ground. Landscaping will use only Florida-friendly native plants, watered with drip irrigation and reclaimed water.

Beverland said he was skeptical at first, but says he's really looking forward to moving to the new chambers when they are ready.

"This is going to be incredible," he said.

He's served on the council for 20 years, four terms as mayor, and has helped shape city policy in the bank building, at the current location next to City Hall and soon, to what will now become the city's first green building.

"This takes us back home, where we used to be," he said.

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at [email protected]

Historic downtown Oldsmar bank building undergoes green renovation to house City Council 02/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 2:14pm]
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