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City of Largo buys land for new City Hall

Margie Manning

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The current Largo City Hall at 201 Highland does not meet the city's current needs, officials said.

The City of Largo will build its new City Hall in the 400 block of West Bay Drive.

The city bought several parcels of land on West Bay between 4th Street and 5th Street Northwest in three separate transactions on May 20. The city paid a total of $2.845 million for the property, according to deeds filed in Pinellas County. A spokeswoman for the city confirmed the property would be the site for a new City Hall.

The new City Hall will be “one of the most exciting projects the city has ever done,” City Manager Henry Schubert said in a December video about the new project. “It is going to be the lynchpin, we believe, for significant redevelopment in our downtown area.”

While the design is still being finalized, the new City Hall is expected to be a five-story, mixed-use structure with retail space as well as offices for city workers, and a parking garage with 360 parking spaces.

The current City Hall, at 201 Highland Ave., does not meet the city’s needs, Schubert said. It was originally built for a financial services company about 46 years ago, and the city of Largo moved into the building 20 years ago. It has major problems with its HVAC system, as well as electrical and plumbing issues, and it is in a flood-prone location. It is energy inefficient and has poor accessibility, Schubert said.

“We feel that moving City Hall back to downtown is where it really needs to be. It would be a mixed-use complex. It wouldn’t just be a typical City Hall with offices for city employees, but would include retail space to be rented to private businesses, and in many ways it would be a gathering place for the community,” Schubert said.

It is expected to have up to 20,000 square feet of retail space, with both restaurants and retail shops. The parking garage would serve city workers during the day and be used by patrons of downtown businesses in the evenings and on weekends, he said.

The city is working with architectural firm ASD|SKY, which was part of the design team for the St. Pete Pier, and has hired Biltmore Construction in Belleair as construction manager. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed in 18 months, Schubert said.

The city expects to tear down the current City Hall and sell the property for private sector redevelopment, most likely for residential use, Schubert said.

The property the city bought for the new City Hall is currently occupied by a strip center, an office, a warehouse and vacant commercial land, according to the Pinellas County property appraiser. “There are tenants currently located on this property and the City has negotiated a lower lease for businesses that wish to stay until ground-breaking or sometime the first of next year,” said Kate Oyer, communications director for the city.

Here are the details of the May 20 purchases, based on the deeds filed in Pinellas County and county property appraiser records:

• 400 West Bay Drive, acquired for $1.4 million from 400 West Bay Plaza, and currently used for a 4,320-square-foot strip center.

• 408 West Bay Drive and 412 West Bay Drive, acquired for $450,000 from the Douglas Cole Family Trust. The property currently is vacant commercial land and a 3,000-square-foot single building store.

• 422 West Bay Drive, 424 West Bay Drive, 435 1st Ave. NW and vacant land on 5th St. NW, acquired for $995,000 from Roy Terepka, Stephen Terepka and Sandra Terepka Hoffman. There’s a 1,200-square-foot office building at 422 West Bay, a 4,428-square-foot strip center at 424 West Bay and a 1,241-square-foot warehouse at 435 1st Ave. NW. The property on 1st Avenue and 5th Street is adjacent to the West Bay property. 

The Community Redevelopment Agency is listed as the owner of several other adjacent parcels.

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