By JULIE B. MAGLIO
On Tuesday April 14, 2020 Hernando County Board of County Commissioners approved a $1.7 million contract for architectural and engineering services for the comprehensive renovations of the Hernando County Courthouse / Judicial Building.
The winning bidder for the architectural and engineering project was Mason Blau and Associates from Clearwater, Fla. who was the firm who completed the audit and planning study. The $1.7 million contract for architectural/engineering services was approved among several purchasing and contract items during the April 14, 2020 meeting.
Funding in the amount of $1.5 million for the engineering project will come from court fees held in the Court Improvement Fund-Bldgs-Judicial with the remaining funds of $198,345.80 transferred from the Court Improvement Fund-Contingency Reserves.
Chief Judge Sue Robbins of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court sent the county a letter in Jan. 2019 outlining a multiphase renovation plan in order to meet the additional space and security needs of the growing court system. In the letter Robbins explained that the Hernando County Judiciary hired Mason, Blau & Associates to complete “a space needs audit and planning study for current and future judicial needs inside the Hernando County Courthouse.”
She further explains, “The audit and planning study was conducted to comply with the Chief Judge’s responsibility to regulate court facilities and ensure the prompt and effective administration of justice, pursuant to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.215. The audit uncovered the following four (4) issues that require attention: 1) Court Security; 2) Secure movement within the courthouse; 3) Additional Court Rooms; 4) Sally*Port and Holding Cell update and expansion. A five phase plan has been devised to address each of the current shortcomings.”
One other proposal was received from Suncoast Architectural Studios of Spring Hill, Fla. Both proposals were evaluated and then ranked by a Professional Services Review Committee (PSRC). Members of this committee are Chief Judge Daniel B. Merritt, Jr., Todd Tuzzolino, Chief Deputy, Court Administration; Scott Herring, P.E., Director of Public Works; Jim Friedrichs, Building Official; and Erik van de Boogaard, President, Construction Genes, LLC.
The county describes the phases of the project:
“The project plans should include a phased approach and anticipate predominantly night-time work. The phases by order of importance and completion are as follows:
PHASE I: Creation of the secure corridors and installation of the Judicial elevator.
PHASEII: Second (2nd) floor courtrooms (courtrooms J, K and I)
PHASE III: First (1st) floor courtroom, new entrance building and handicap parking loop (courtroom H and the new entry).
PHASE IV: Design options of the sally port/holding cells into the current areas utilized by facilities on the ground level.”
According to Mason, Blau & Associates, “The County’s anticipated opinion of probable construction cost for all work in this project scope is $15,000,000.” As part of the engineering contract, the company is to determine construction cost, “estimating for the design and construction necessary to complete the project.”
The firm describes the project as follows,
“Our understanding of the summary of the project includes significant improvements to the Hernando County Government Center located at 20 N. Main Street in Brooksville, Florida. The main facility on campus is a five story building of approximately 154,000 gross sq. ft., and was originally completed in 1987. Hernando County intends to design, partially demolish, and renovate the Judicial Wing, and construct a new addition at the Main Entrance. Renovations totaling 20,405 square feet occur on five floors of the Judicial Wing. This renovation work includes provisions for a new vertical and horizontal secure circulation system, including a dedicated Judges secure elevator and new in-custody secure elevator and related holding areas. Once the Clerk of the Court vacates the Judicial Wing, four new courtrooms and associated chambers will be added to the First and Second Floors. The new Main Entrance occurs on the east side of the existing 5 acre site, and the new addition requires demolition of the existing plaza, monumental stairs, and entry bridge. The new addition includes revised vehicular traffic flow for eight (8) new ADA parking spaces, and revised pedestrian circulation to a new entrance canopy and lobby addition. Pedestrians will actually enter the addition at the Basement Level which is also the ground level on this side of the building. The new Lobby will be approximately 2,500 square feet.”
Mason, Blau & Associates will provide “architectural, geotechnical, civil, landscape architect, survey, asbestos/ lead paint survey, interior design, LEED consultant, LEED modeling, construction costs, acoustical, structural, mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, and electrical consultant services for a 11.32% of construction or cost fee of $1,698,345.80.” LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a widely used green building rating system.
They estimate it will take 250 days to complete architectural and engineering work, around 6 months for the construction bid process and 485 days for construction.
County administration will be displaced from their current courthouse location and are making arrangements for the construction of a 104,000 square foot Government Center on an 18-acre site at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
The cost to secure the property would be $1.7 million, but is dependent on approval by the FAA for a land lease request. According to county administrator Jeff Rogers, the county is updating the Airport Layout Plan, as required by FAA for their consideration. Should this move forward, the total cost of the airport government center project including debt service would be around $70 million.
These two projects are intended to alleviate judicial concerns about their current office space and security as well as providing more office space for the county government.