The City of Kissimmee’s overcrowded permitting office will get some much-needed space thanks to a 12,000-square-foot addition to City Hall.
Development Services Director Craig Holland told GrowthSpotter the city is preparing to go out to bid for a general contractor to build the two-story wing that will extend into the courtyard, parallel to the Commission Chambers.
“We’re going to try to get it out as quick as possible, just because we feel like with the way everything is going with the cost of everything, we need to get it out as quick as possible,” Holland said.
The city engaged RS&H through its continuing services contract to design the building. Core Construction handled all of the pre-construction services. The contracts cost the department $2.5 million. But Holland said the city must seek competitive bids for the construction because the estimated cost of over $5 million exceeds the amount permitted through continuing services contracts.
Holland said the addition will nearly double the space for the building department and allow it room to grow in the future. “It’s not something that we’re going to get it done and then turn around then go, OK, we need more room,” he said. “It’s going to be many years before we completely fill it out.”
The new addition also frees up space in the main building for other departments. The planning staff has been scattered across three floors and now will be able to consolidate its office. “Long Range Planning is all upstairs with me on the second floor, so they’ll move back down to the first floor,” Holland said.
To manage construction costs, the city may elect to phase the project by completing the first floor and leaving the second floor as a shell to be completed at a later date.
The project is entirely funded through fees collected by the Building Department. Holland said the self-funded department collects an average of $1.2 million in excess fees, which go into a reserve fund. The state legislature regulates how much the department can keep in reserves and what type of expenditures are allowed.
Kissimmee has tapped its reserve fund for employee pay raises based on a salary study of the department. The building department also absorbed the fire inspectors to cover those salaries with fees, and it helped finance the city’s new Energov software program that expands and simplifies the online permitting process.
But the fund can be unpredictable because one or two large commercial projects or apartment buildings can result in an influx of cash. “Honestly, the building fund can be very up and down,” Holland said. “The last five years, it’s all over the place. So I’m meeting with the finance director towards the end of the month to sit down and say, OK, if we get a bid of $4.5 million, do we have this money to spend?”