BROOKSVILLE — A dozen firms have submitted their conceptual proposals to Hernando County on how to design, finance and construct the long-discussed new judicial center.
The conceptual plans, which fill a banker's box in county purchasing director Jim Gantt's office, represent the first step in a months-long process of evaluating the ideas and eventually presenting the top public-private partnership construction concept to the County Commission.
Proposals come from as far away as Texas, Washington, D.C., and New York and as near as Domingo Drive in Brooksville.
The ideas vary widely, too. One firm just wants to sell the county a property in Brooksville. Another just wants to manage the process.
The familiar Metro Bay Development LLC of Tampa, is suggesting an alternative plan that would take 60,000 square feet of the county's old Brooksville Regional Medical Center and turn it into the new county government center while renovating the existing government center into a purely judicial complex.
Metro Bay Development is developing the Oaks Towne Centre on the old hospital site with an independent and assisted living facility as the first portion of that project. The hospital was previously county property.
Most of the firms that have submitted proposals for the judicial center are development and design groups, including several from Tampa and Orlando. The local firm interested is Burnhardt Group LLC, a corporation formed in early November affiliated with Paul Douglas, who has been before the County Commission in recent months expressing interest in the judicial complex.
Gantt has not had the chance to review all of the proposals yet but he said some included price tags that might surprise residents. One came with a cost of $81-million, nearly twice the estimated cost of the project when it was proposed in 2001.
The next step is for a review team made up of County Commissioner Dave Russell, deputy county administrator Larry Jennings and other county officials to begin analyzing the submissions. The first meeting is Friday.
Their yardstick will include examining the qualifications and experience of each part of each partnership, looking into the project characteristics, analyzing the financing proposal, determining the county's role and deciding how each project would fit with downtown Brooksville.
The review team is expected to narrow the field to the top three firms, which would be asked to move into the next phase and prepare designs and financial plans for eventual consideration by the County Commission.
That process could take six months to a year, and commissioners have the option at any point along the way to move forward with a proposal or reject the entire process, Gantt said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.