The City of Longwood is seeking a real estate consulting firm to guide it in accomplishing twin goals this year of enhancing the city's historic district, and uniting municipal services at a new City Hall.
Longwood issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on Monday for interested commercial real estate firms, with a pre-proposal conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at City Commission chambers. The deadline for submitting bids is Feb. 9 at 10:30 a.m.
GrowthSpotter first reported in August that Longwood officials wanted to demolish the current City Hall complex and build another one at its police department headquarters on Church Street. The police station would be razed and the department possibly integrated with other city services, including the fire department.
Combining those city offices would free up the current 0.9-acre City Hall site for new development compatible with the surrounding historic district, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The 4 acres on Church Street slated for the new City Hall include a "significant amount of open area," according to the RFP. That land could be preserved as open space to provide parking for the historic district and special events, or developed, depending on what the consultant recommends.
"Our desire is to make this area an amenity, to draw people into the historic district," said Thomas Krueger, Longwood's economic development manager. "How we do it -- whether it's housing, retail or a combination -- we're open to all those. That's why we're looking to bring someone in to assist us in that direction."
The winning firm will be expected to analyze the highest and best use of the city-owned property, and then assist with RFPs on any property sold, exchanged, leased or developed. The firm will look at various financing options, including sale, lease-rent, lease-to-own and public-private partnerships, and develop a marketing plan for properties as directed by the city commission.
The firm will also conduct a survey to determine the approximate space needed for the new City Hall complex. After the initial plans are agreed upon, the firm would continue in an advisory role, evaluating development and financing proposals, as well as identifying property for possible acquisition.
The winning bid will not necessarily be the one with the lowest cost. The bidders will be graded on a 100-point system that considers the firm's qualifications (25 points), similar project experience and success (30 points), ability to perform the work (20 points), and overall demonstrated understanding of the City Hall relocation project (25 points).
The contract will run for three years, with two possible one-year renewals if the city manager and the consultant agree.
Krueger said the time is right for the city to start moving ahead with the relocation and development planning. Several infrastructure projects linked to the historic district are either underway or in final planning stages.
Reiter Park is undergoing a major renovation, including construction of an amphitheater and splash pad. And the Florida Department of Transportation is finalizing engineering for a project that will narrow traffic lanes on Ronald Reagan Boulevard to make way for on-street parking and bike lanes.
"The whole area will change quite significantly," Krueger said.