INDIAN SHORES — If everything goes according to plan, town officials will break ground in a few weeks on a new $3.5 million, three-story Municipal Center that will triple the space of the existing Town Hall.
The 17,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style building is scheduled to open in spring 2011. Once open, the current Town Hall, originally built in the late 1940s and last expanded more than 20 years ago, will be torn down.
"The view to the east from the top floor is going to be gorgeous," said police Chief E.D. Williams, who also is the town's administrator.
A building contractor has not been selected, but groundbreaking is scheduled for Jan. 29 and construction is expected to take about 420 days.
Conceptual drawings and other project details will be presented to residents during a public information meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 in the Town Hall auditorium, 19305 Gulf Blvd.
The new municipal center will rise three stories over a covered parking area. Building designs haven't been completed, but the structure might have a peaked roof to conceal and protect mechanical equipment, said Eddie A. Mastalerz, a principal at ARC3 Architecture of St. Petersburg, the firm selected to design the project.
The first elevated floor will encompass about 7,000 square feet. It will be used by the town's Building Department and the Police Department, which will have a secure access from beneath the building.
Indian Shores police also provide law enforcement services to neighboring Redington Shores. Of the other beach communities, only St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island still have their own police departments.
"This new building is a verification of the town's commitment to maintaining its own Police Department," Williams said. Indian Shores has had its own Police Department for 45 years.
The public will access the second and third floors via an elevator housed in a ground-level lobby.
All other government offices, as well as the town's library, will be on the second floor. The third floor will include a large gathering room, conference rooms, restrooms and a serving kitchen.
Second- and third-floor balconies will offer a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. The third floor will offer a view of the Gulf of Mexico. These floors each will have about 5,000 square feet of enclosed space.
Williams said the third floor most likely will be available for rent to residents for private functions.
The new facility will be behind the current Town Hall, approximately where the annex is located. The annex will be demolished before construction begins. When construction is completed, the old Town Hall also will be torn down and the space used for landscaping and parking.
The new building will be initially financed by $1.1 million in accrued Penny for Pinellas money, a $1.9 million loan backed by future Penny for Pinellas revenues, and the remainder will come from the town's general fund reserves, Williams said.
Those funds would eventually be replaced by more than $4 million the town expects to receive from Pinellas County's reimbursement for the recently completed project to bury utilities on Gulf Boulevard.
Indian Shores officials interviewed 17 architectural firms before picking ARC3 as the designer.
Among ARC3's recent public projects, either completed or in the design phase, are: the Center for Molecular and Life Sciences at Eckerd College, the new Pinellas County Public Safety Complex, the Glades Administration Building for the city of Port St. Lucie, the Martin County Emergency Operations Center and the Kennedy Place dormitory at the University of Tampa.