LARGO — The city of Largo’s new $55 million City Hall downtown still has a long way to go before officials expect to break ground in early to mid-2022.
But it has taken steps forward in the past few months, including a more comprehensive design of the five-story mixed-use facility on the north side of West Bay Drive between Fourth and Fifth streets.
Here’s a look at some of the recent progress and discussion about the project that city leaders hope will be a destination sparking economic development downtown.
Design shaping up
Last month, John Curran of architectural firm ASD/SKY presented city commissioners with a glimpse of what the new City Hall complex — the most expensive in the city’s history — will look like.
The new facility will have ground-floor commercial space and a separate parking garage with more than 300 parking spaces. It also will feature a public plaza, opportunities for outdoor dining space, and flexible indoor and outdoor event spaces.
A digital tour of the new complex elicited plenty of compliments from commissioners.
Some of the highest praise came in discussion about the sustainability elements of the facility, which will include a 37,000-square-foot solar array that Curran said should provide at least about 30 percent of the energy for the building.
“I think the story alone of sustainability and resiliency for this project is phenomenal,” he said. “It really is. That’s what I think is going to set this project apart completely.”
Curran said the building design is closing in on some lofty sustainability certifications.
“At the moment, we are on the cusp of actually being a (LEED) Platinum facility,” he said, referring to the highest rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification program. “And I think every day I’m getting more and more confident that we’re actually going to be there.”
Other green elements include electric vehicle charging stations, water harvesting that will provide all the water for irrigation, and a multistory living green wall that starts in the lobby and works its way up the interior of the building.
“It’s a display I think of the city’s commitment to sustainability,” Curran said.
The building will also feature plenty of glass and will be infused with as much daylight as possible, he said.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t be safe, adding that it is being designed to withstand winds of 157 mph.
“It is a fortress in some respects, even though the majority of it is glass,” he said.
City leaders also discussed another type of green, as in money and economic development.
The new structures will include 18,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. In order to best utilize that space, commissioners on Oct. 5 authorized staff to negotiate with a commercial real estate firm to help find the right tenants.
If the city and Colliers International Florida LLC reach a deal, the firm will develop a market analysis and marketing plan to determine the appropriate mix of tenants and then create an ongoing strategy for the space.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity. We think this is a transformative project,” said Ken Krasnow of Colliers, which also helped establish tenants at the St. Pete Pier.
Vice Mayor Jamie Robinson said he would like to see a mix of small and established businesses, which could include a national chain as an anchor.
“I think a big part of what we’re trying to do with this city hall, obviously, is to drive redevelopment downtown. I really would like to see that mix,” he said.
However, he said he didn’t want to price mom and pops shops out of the market.
“I don’t want to eliminate that Largo feel to what we’re trying to build here,” he said.
Mayor Woody Brown agreed, adding that activating that part of town was the highest priority.
“Revenue is important, but what I think more important is an active, vibrant, successful businesses going in there,” he said. “Whether they’re national chains or whether they’re a local gastropub or brewery. I want businesses that are going to be successful out of the gate, and the revenue is kind of secondary, I think.”