ATLANTIC BEACH — The town council gave architects the go-ahead recently to move forward on plans for the new public safety and administration complex to be located off West Forth Macon Road.
Patrick Hobgood with Hobgood Architects, the Raleigh-based firm tasked with designing the new building, presented the latest plans to the Atlantic Beach Council during a work session Thursday at the town hall boardroom. The plans included elevations, renderings and floor layouts, though Mr. Hobgood said architects are still working on some final details.
“In terms of the design, we’re kind of really excited and happy with it,” he said.
The council gave architects their OK to proceed with the plans as presented. Mr. Hobgood said the next step is to get all the consultants on board and begin finalizing details such as materials and layouts.
The building will be a two-story complex to house the fire and police departments, town administration offices and a council boardroom. The latest plans have the building at 22,500 square feet, slightly less than architects previously presented.
According to the plans, the boardroom will be on the first floor of the building with its own entrance. It will feature 11-foot-high ceilings, raised council seats at the front of the room and audience seating.
“The footprint stays pretty close, the capacity is almost the same, but the ceiling height is a little higher, which will be nice,” Mr. Hobgood said.
Also on the first floor is space for the town planning department, parks and recreation, finance department and other administrative offices, as well as some conference rooms and storage. The fire department equipment bay is located to the north of the building and is connected to the main structure.
Offices for the police and fire departments are also located on the first floor, while living quarters, a kitchen, gym, storage and break rooms are on the second floor. There are also detective offices, interview rooms and assorted conference rooms upstairs, but Mr. Hobgood said architects are still working on the final orientation of rooms for the fire department.
“We’re still playing with the configuration. You’ve got the bunk room, two captain offices and sleeping quarters and then a TV, communal space, dining space, large open bar at the kitchen for eating, and they get this outdoor terrace, as well,” he said.
As for the building’s appearance, Mr. Hobgood said it is meant to resemble surrounding structures while still being identifiable as a municipal building. The complex is located near a residential area, and the council expressed they wanted the new building to blend in with the “beach cottage” look of nearby buildings.
“We had this initial sketch of how to make a 23,000-square-foot building look residential, or (like) a cottage,” Mr. Hobgood said. “…I think with this (design) we’re really happy with the scale of the building and how it blends with the neighborhood behind it.”
The firm also wants to attach a plant screen to the fire station garage and plant vegetation on the roof terrace and on the grounds, although those additions will depend on final costs.
“We are very skeptical we can afford to do a cool green roof, but we love the floating landscape of the second floor,” Mr. Hobgood said. “Some of these things we’ll make some concessions with, but at this moment, everybody is really excited about the project.”
The council, too, seemed happy with the designs presented and gave the firm the OK to proceed with the plans.
The final price of the new building will not be known until the architects make final decisions on materials and other details, but the town has set a target budget around $7 million. Mr. Hobgood said the final price can change significantly based on several factors, but with a 20% contingency, it could be anywhere from about $7.4 to $7.85 million.
“When we start to look at actual products and know what they cost per square foot, we will make tighter renderings where we can see what that will look like,” he said.
One lingering decision the council settled Thursday was to install a commercial-grade heating and air conditioning system rather than 12 residential units. That adds about $300,000 to the overall project cost, but the council said it is worth it to have an adequate system with a backup generator.
If all goes according to plan, the latest timeline has design development wrapping up in September and construction documentation taking place October through January. Bidding is scheduled to open next February, and officials hope to break ground by April 2020. Construction is expected to last about a year, so officials hope the new complex is complete by spring 2021.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.