WINTER HAVEN – Straughn Trout Architects staff told the Winter Haven City Commission Sept. 10 that it could cost as much as $15 million to consolidate city employees into two buildings, transferring most into a renovated Nora Mayo Hall sometime in the future.

Currently there are city employees working in four city-owned properties.

“I was vocal about acquiring (Nora Mayo Hall) for use as a city hall,” Mayor Brad Dantzler said. “Of course, I don't want to spend $7 million or even $15 million.”

Nora Mayo Hall has a much larger space that could be used to host Winter Haven City Commission meetings. But Straughn Trout Architects staff, paid to do a spatial analysis in advance of any proposed move, said that because of the way the building is designed, there would not be enough room to house all of the city’s employees.

Dantzler asked if there were any less expensive options to move some staff into Nora Mayo Hall. Straughn Trout Architects staff said there were less expensive options, but that over the course of the next 50 years it may be more affordable to make a large investment now that would last longer than making multiple, smaller changes.

City commissioners took no action on the matter Sept. 10.

Commissioner William Twyford suggested renovating the large, downstairs meeting hall and one large meeting room upstairs. Based on a Straughn Trout Architects slide, renovating the 12,000 square-foot first floor hall would cost $1.5 million.

The City of Winter Haven is leasing Nora Mayo Hall from the state of Florida over the next 50 years. Any large investment in a building not owned by the city could be risky, Twyford suggested.

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Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.

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