Alternate administration building plan rejected

Alternate administration building plan rejected
WMFR commissioners declined to pursue the purchase of up to three available units in this shell building off of 21st Avenue West in Bradenton for use as the district’s new administrative headquarters. - Kristin Swain | Sun

BRADENTON – The majority of West Manatee Fire Rescue’s commissioners agreed to continue moving forward with the construction of their own administration building rather than purchase suites in a shell building near Blake Medical Center.

Commissioner Al Robinson brought the idea back to the table during a May 19 meeting, asking realtor J. Daniel Douglass to provide information on a shell building on 21st Avenue West in Bradenton.

Out of the four units in the building, Douglass said there are three units available with a total of 6,140 square feet. The building, designed to serve as medical offices, currently holds one medical office and is a shell building with sprinklers, a ceiling and air conditioning already installed. Located across the street from the Bishop Animal Shelter, the property features a total of 29 parking spaces and does not meet the hardened hurricane-force wind load that commissioners previously said is wanted for the district’s new administration building.

Robinson urged his fellow commissioners to carefully consider purchasing all three units and selling one if the district finds it doesn’t need that much space for administrative staff.

Douglass said that the three units could be purchased for $549,000 and would cost about $614,000 to build out as office space, ending with a total purchase price of $1.2 million, not including condominium fees associated with the property. He added that the building is an as-is purchase.

Commissioner Randy Cooper said he was concerned with the lack of ability to store or stage equipment at the site as it has much less space for parking than the currently planned administration building.

Commissioners Larry Jennis and George Harris both said they have concerns about the building. Some of those concerns voiced by Jennis include that the building isn’t hardened and doesn’t have adequate parking space. Harris added that the location also is problematic, being well outside of WMFR’s district.

Chief Ben Rigney said he’s been working with representatives from Hall Darling Design Studio and expects to have a not-to-exceed price for construction of the district’s new administration building for commissioner consideration in August.

In April, Rigney presented a potential design for the new administration building that features office space, storage and a hardened conference room that could be used as a westside emergency operations center in the event of a hurricane. The building is currently planned for construction on a lot purchased by the district in 2019 and located off Manatee Avenue behind the Fountain Court Shopping Center.

“I think we’re making good progress,” Jennis said of the potential construction project.

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