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Dade City begins negotiations over new visitor center they hope will attract bicyclists

City commissioners agree to start negotiations over design and construction of the facility
Dade City plans to open a visitor center next summer.
Dade City plans to open a visitor center next summer. [ Times (2018) ]
Published May 13, 2020

DADE CITY — City Commissioners are looking forward to opening a welcoming destination for visitors to downtown Dade City next summer — particularly bicyclists who come to ride the area’s trails

This week commissioners agreed to begin negotiations with Borregard Construction, Inc. as the possible designer and builder of a new visitor information center.

Slated for land the city purchased last year, the visitor center would be approximately 1,500 square feet. It would house displays of local points of interest including art galleries, museums and recreational areas as well as parking, facilities for minor repairs and resting areas for those riding their bicycles into town. It will also feature private vendors and restroom facilities.

Dade City has long looked for a place to draw in biking enthusiasts from all over the region who enjoy existing trails but didn’t always come into the downtown area, said Melanie Ramagnoli, city community and economic development director. The idea is to bring them in to see and patronize the downtown area while having a connection with local trails including the adjacent Hardy Trail.

The visitor information center will be built on the south side of Church Avenue at the intersection of Church and 8th Street.

The visitor center will be part of a larger public area on the property. City officials are talking about a variety of other possible uses in the future for that block, including a splash park, playground and nature trails, Ramagnoli said.

Three bidders submitted proposals last month and a committee of city staff representatives evaluated them. They settled on Borregard Construction as their first choice for negotiations. The construction company is locally-based in Dade City. If negotiations with the first-ranked company are not successful, city staff would then discuss the contract with the second-ranked firm.

City commissioners will have the final say on the design of the building, which will be contemporary on the inside but is expected to match the aesthetic of nearby surroundings on the outside, Ramagnoli said.

"The City of Dade City, within close proximity to this parcel, values its historical integrity and architecture. Church Avenue, which this building will front on, is listed on the National Registry for Historical Districts,” the city’s request for proposals said. "This building will also be located near the Hardy Trail multi-use path trail head, and connects to the State of Florida’s trail systems.''

Construction must begin by July 15 with completion by June 1, 2021. City officials agreed to expedite permitting to help accomplish the project.

The city purchased the 2.23 acres at 37732 Church Street for $800,000 from Weitzenkorn Family Partnership, Ltd. to provide amenities to support and promote the central business district. When the city first looked at the site in 2018, the appraisal was nearly $1.2 million.

While the city invested in buying the site, the construction will be accomplished through a $250,000 tourism grant, Ramagnoli said.