DADE CITY — The 1920s building that housed City Hall until last year is coming down soon.
City commissioners on Tuesday evening chose Cross Construction of Zephyrhills to demolish the dilapidated building. The company's bid of $91,600 was the lowest of six; the highest came in at just over $230,000, said Gordon Onderdonk, public works director.
City Commissioner Bill Dennis questioned the significant difference in the low and high bids. Onderdonk said Cross has done work for the city before and it could be possible the company's bid was low because officials have a better idea than others of what can be salvaged from the building.
"Maybe they see more value in it," said Onderdonk.
City Attorney Karla Owens vouched for the company, pointing out it has done other smaller demolitions in the city relating to code violations. "They're very professional," said Owens. "We have not had a lick of problems with them. Plus, they're local."
Onderdonk said a formal contract will be on the next commission meeting agenda and work should begin by April.
Officials have still not settled on a plan for a new City Hall, but the old building has crumbled beyond repair. The exterior was built in the 1920s with plans to serve as a hotel, but construction halted after the 1929 stock market crash. The interior was later finished on the first and second floors only. By the 1940s it was functioning as City Hall.
In recent years, the upper levels had cracked windows, exposed air conditioning duct work and the thick smell of mildew. The elevator and HVAC systems were noisy and inefficient. One employee described mushrooms growing on the second floor.
Employees began moving offices out of the historic building in 2011, with some moving into an adjacent annex on Meridian Avenue and others into the train depot at the east end of Meridian.
City Manager Billy Poe said ideas for a new City Hall will be discussed during a March 18 city commission workshop.