The Regent, a Riverview events center built with $7 million in public money, will need $230,000 more from the state to fortify a second floor so it can be used as a reserve hurricane shelter.
Work needs to be done on the special event center's top-floor windows, doors and ventilation systems, according to an estimate by the Williams Co., a Tampa general contractor.
"The bottom floor is open as a shelter and always has been," said Beverly Byerts, public information officer for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "The top floor is what they're working toward having designated as a shelter as well."
The Regent received local, state and federal funds for construction, including a $1.3 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
The FEMA money was administered through the Florida Division of Emergency Management to the Brandon Community Advantage Center, which became known as the Regent. The cost to meet shelter standards will be an addendum to the original grant.
FEMA conducted a site visit in March and notified the Division of Emergency Management about discrepancies with the top floor. An engineering firm reviewed FEMA's findings and another firm created specifications for the work, said Ashley Carl, spokesperson for Hillsborough Community College, which owns the building.
The Williams Co. will complete the job, which includes concrete cutting and removal, steel work, sealants and caulking, ventilation, electrical and other work.
A proposal the Regent sent to the state is under review, Byerts said. State emergency management officials will then send it to FEMA for review.
The Regent got FEMA funding as part of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program established in 2006 after Hurricane Wilma caused widespread damage to power, water and sewer systems in Florida in 2005.
The Regent is on Hillsborough's list of alternate shelters, said Preston Cook, the county's emergency management director. The Regent's first-floor walls were built to withstand winds of up to 160 mph, and the base floor was made to brace for 190 mph winds.
Those features met the new standard for hurricane shelters established in 2009 by the International Code Council and the National Storm Shelter Association. The code established new guidelines on the wind speeds that a structure must be built to withstand in order to qualify with FEMA as a hurricane shelter.
At the time of the Regent's construction, the code was new and open to some interpretation, said David Lemar Jr., chairman of the Brandon Community Advantage Center board, which oversees the Regent.
The FEMA grant application was made to request funding to harden the bottom floor, which does not have the same glass windows as the top floor.
"Not a whole lot of products, specifically doors and glass, had met the threshold or the testing for the new code, meaning that you could only have protection if you had metal, solid doors," said Antonio Amadeo, an architect and chairman-elect of the Regent's board.
It was a balance between creating a building that could serve as a reserve shelter, but didn't look like a bunker, he said. "The community would not have wanted a building without any glass."
Bay News 9 contributed to this report. Keeley Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2453.