The Charlotte County Board of Commissioners favored making repairs to Hurricane Ian-damaged Mid-County Regional Library in Port Charlotte instead of relocating it to a rented facility or building a new structure altogether.
After listening to a presentation by Community Services Director Tommy Scott, the commissioners unanimously decided to proceed with repairing the existing building at 2050 Forrest Nelson Blvd. The significant price differences of each option weighed heavily into the decision.
The cost of completely replacing the existing building would cost an estimated $30.7 million, and construction would take some 36 months. Repairing and restoring the current structure would cost $3.7 million, and its design and construction would take 24 months.
Commissioners were also presented with the option of leasing an existing facility for the library. In addition to a large price tag, all of the rental spaces fell short of what was needed for a replacement library.
At one point, Scott was asked why the county was exploring the other options. Scott said staff was “only recently aware the existing building could be repaired.”
The Mid-County Regional Library building has 41,000 square feet of space, with 3,000 square feet used for staff and the remaining 38,000 square feet for public use and service delivery. The 5-acre site allows for 214 parking spaces.
None of the three sites visited for leasing provided what the current site provided.
A former Bed, Bath & Beyond store, 18700 Veterans Blvd. in Port Charlotte, has 24,971 square feet of space, and the property owner offered a five-year contract to lease with a price tag of $2,806,458.
A former Tuesday Morning store space at Promenades Mall, 3280 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte, has 21,000 square feet of space, and the property owner offered a three-year contract for total rent of $1,422,179.
Lastly, a former Bank of America building in Port Charlotte has 10,149 square feet of space, and the county was offered a five-year contract to rent for a total of $1,265,415. For an additional 3,259 square feet of space, the cost would have been $1,596,737.
Commissioners listened as options and cost factors were given.
Noting that the library was one of the lifelines of the community, Commissioner Ken Doherty recommended restoring it as quickly as possible.
Chairman Bill Truex, who was out of the area and present via conference call, concurred with his fellow commissioners. “I agree with what’s been said. The bones of the building are good,” he said.
Travis Perdue, facilities director for the county, also participated in the presentation and gave a brief history of the building. He noted the facility wasn’t in good condition when the county took ownership.
Formerly a supermarket, the building was purchased by Charlotte County in 2005 and underwent renovations.
The Charlotte County Property Appraiser appraised the building at $5,900,625.
Hurricane Ian severely damaged the roof, and water intrusion destroyed much of the contents.
The building was insured for $7,776,000 with a deductible of $233,280. The contents were insured for $4,089,834, with a deductible of $122,695.
A payment of $1,094,332 was already received for actual cash value, and payment is pending for the contents.
Payments of $1,958,563 have already been made for mitigation work and a temporary roof. In addition, a $1,466,303 payment for contents, cleaning, inventorying, shipping and off-site costs was made.
Although some of the library’s contents could be saved and stored off-site, 45% of book stock was lost.
The rebuilt library is targeted for completion in about two years at its present location.