DADE CITY — Officials got their first glimpse this week at the long-awaited architectural plans for the new City Hall.
"I think it just breathes new life into the city and into downtown," said City Manager Billy Poe, who has spearheaded the effort to replace the existing seven-decade-old structure.
The proposed $4 million building would cover 24,000 square feet, housing the city's offices and the Police Department under one roof. It would be built at the same site as the existing City Hall.
But not everyone loved the design.
City Commissioner Eunice Penix said it looks too modern: "I know we need a city hall really bad, but I think they can re-do the looks of the (new) building."
City Commissioner Bill Dennis also favored a more historic look.
"I just don't like it at all," he said. "It's just plain. It's not very compatible for downtown."
The architect described the plans — which Poe presented to commissioners Tuesday evening — as a work in progress.
"That is an early conceptual study," said Lisa Wannemacher, of Wannemacher Jensen Architects, the St. Petersburg company that drew up the plans for Dade City. "That is a start. It was premature to release that early elevation study. It's very preliminary."
The current three-story City Hall, which serves as the city's main hub, holds decades of history, but is showing signs of age. Some walls and floors are cracked.
The current City Hall "doesn't put off a good image to the community," Poe said. "It looks like a bomb shelter."
When the fiscal year started last October, city commissioners set aside funds to get architectural plans drawn up for the new digs.
Poe said the city will apply soon for a USDA Community Facility Development Grant that would cover about 55 percent of the cost of construction. The city would have to cover the rest. The grant application process is lengthy, so city officials are uncertain when construction would start.
"Construction costs are down compared to three to four years ago," Trilby resident Wilton Simpson said at the commission meeting Tuesday evening. "Dade City is going to need to act very quickly or it's going to cost us a whole lot more 18 months from now."
"My hope is that within a year we can begin construction, but it all depends on the grant," Poe said.
Ebony Windom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.