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  1. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg City Hall set to temporarily move this summer

City Hall is set to undergo renovations, so staff will move into the old police building. City Council meetings will be held at the Sunshine Center.
Published Feb. 15, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — City Hall is moving.

Starting this summer, the city plans to move its 97-person headquarters about a mile west along First Avenue N to the old police station. That's because St. Petersburg's 80-year-old City Hall is set to undergo $6.1 million in repairs and upgrades, primarily to fix its ailing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

City Council and other committee meetings will be held just a short walk away at the Sunshine Center at 330 Fifth St N.

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The old police station at 1300 First Ave. N works as a temporary city hall because the St. Petersburg Police Department plans this summer to move its operations into its new $79 million police headquarters being built across from the old one along First Avenue N.

"It's a facility that we (the city) own that can be easily converted for the business use of city hall ...," said city administrator and deputy mayor Kanika Tomalin.

City Hall was built in 1939 using federal dollars from the New Deal. It must also have its roof replaced and solar panels added to make it more energy efficient.

City staff are expected to utilize about 60 percent of the old four-story police headquarters. But there's a reason why the city is replacing that building: It's decrepit. It's actually two buildings fused together, one built in the 1950s and the other built in the 1970s, and together it is expensive to heat and cool.

It costs $423,000 annually to operate police headquarters, while it costs the city $114,000 to keep City Hall running. The city anticipates it will only have to spend $127,000 to keep the old police building open for city hall personnel because they'll be contained within a portion of the west building.

City Council member Gina Driscoll had raised some concerns about the safety of using the Sunshine Center for public meetings. That's because visitors to City Hall are screened by security personnel using metal detectors before they can go up to the second-floor council chambers.

The Sunshine Center does not have a similar security arrangement, though the city has held public workshops there.

When council members learned in December about the move, Driscoll said she had questions. But after meeting last week with Tomalin and city clerk Chan Srinivasa, she said those concerns were addressed.

"I feel confident now that as far as security is concerned we'll be able to operate without any fears," Driscoll said. "It's going to be inconvenient for everyone but it is temporary."

Contact McKenna Oxenden at moxenden@tampabay.com. Follow @mack_oxenden.

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