Logical to Use Existing Site for Addition to Nassau County Library in Fernandina

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Logical Addition to the library. Close atrium, use the Alachua side for addition and only lose a few staff spots.

If you look at the picture, you’ll see an aerial view of the Nassau County Public Library site in downtown Fernandina.  In recent years, a great deal of discussion centered on moving the library to another location.  The location mentioned over and over is the Wade Vuturo Building.   I believe there is a better plan and adapting a bank and office space to library use is not only more difficult, it is almost certainly far more costly.  The parcel outlined in light blue currently is an alley providing access to the side of the property, two handicapped spaces and four staff spaces.   This area along with the atrium, could provide room for a first floor library addition with around 9000 heated square feet, in my unqualified opinion.   Additional staff spaces exist on Alachua already and the two handicapped spaces could easily be moved to 4th Street…actually making a better access to the front entry, in my opinion.    The current atrium inside is blocked by curtains and books most of the time and if you visit the library, is adding very little currently.  This could be opened to be either atrium access for reading in a garden setting or enclosed to be either the computer work space now located by the front entry or computer server space.  Bathrooms could remain in the same location.  I would make the reception area closer to the front of the entry with a wing leading both left to the existing library and right to a children’s section soundproofed or sound isolated from the quiet area in the main library and a media center, in keeping with a progressive adaptation of library use we see across the country.

In my opinion, this addition would cause less interruption of service and be far far lower in cost than an acquisition of a new building.  We would lose only 3 reserved staff spaces, assuming you reline the spaces facing Alachua to gain one more reserved staff spot.  I work nearby and have never seen all staff parking in use and usually see 4 or 5 vacant spaces.   We would preserve a private building currently on the tax roll and providing more than $30,000 per year in tax revenue at today’s depressed rates.  Assume you buy the building at $1.5 million, renovate at a cost of $500,000.00 (I believe a low number), disrupting Centre Street while the renovation is progressing.  How does the proposed purchase of another location, renovation, move to that location and removal of the new location from the tax roll compare to an addition in the existing location 10 years later?  20 years later?  My concern is limited resources for library needs and doing an improvement logically….using tax dollars wisely.

The lost tax revenue alone is more than $30,000/year….$300,000 over 10 years….$600,000 over 20 years!

This is a post in progress…..more to come.   As always, I’m just a local making observations.  The site appears to have more than enough room for a sizeable addition without losing many parking places and in my opinion, possible at a far lower cost than acquiring a building, gutting it and removing it from the tax rolls in the future at a cost of $30,000/year.  If you see flaws in my logic, let me know.

This building was designed as a library by an architect, I would assume.  It is nearly impossible to take a building designed, for instance, as a bank and adapt the use to library use as efficiently or as reasonably as the original building designed from the ground up.

4 comments to Logical to Use Existing Site for Addition to Nassau County Library in Fernandina

  • Ed, well said and honestly with some preliminary site studies I believe we could incorporate even a “building over parking” situation. Provide some nice shaded parking spaces for staff from the unforgiving Florida sun, incorporate a mansard roof and hide some solar panels behind it and a high efficiency air conditioning system. By doing a second story structure – yes, we are incurring the cost of an elevator but we are minimizing the site disruption to 4th Street. The higher vantage point could be used to give large expansive views of the downtown area from a Children’s library area. By incorporating higher efficiency systems, we can also take advantage of grants and energy incentives.

    * Don’t spend your time divining how to sell more widgets, lower your bottom line and reward yourself in less time. *

  • Mark, would it be fair to say, as well, that a building designed as a library is probably easier to use as a library….if compared to a building designed as a bank with enclosed office space?

  • dldtorre@comcast.net

    Actually Ed there have been several studies done in the past several years that would dispute your assumptions on costs. The existing building would have to be gutted–major issues with plumbing, electrical, roof, AC etc due to the age of the building. The current wiring structure for technology has also reached capacity. The exterior structure of the existing building will not support a second floor so this option would mean building a new structure around the existing frame. So basically going out or going up are associated with costs similar to building a new structure (twice what retrofitting the other building would cost).

    The initial examination of office building found that the building had the capacity for a fairly easy low cost transition to library space. Interior walls are easily removed, elevator in place, recent wiring that would be cost effective to upgrade etc.

    • It is interesting to go back to this comment, 6 years later. The library addition is complete and exceeded my expectations. I hope you’re pleased as well.

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