School District expected to close on property for new digs soon

Plans for the new St. Lucie County School District administration building are moving along though the district has yet to close on the purchase of the property. That is expected to happen soon, according to district officials.

Next week, the plat for the property should be approved, clearing the way for the nearly $2 million purchase of about 10 acres near Tutto Fresco Italian restaurant on Commerce Center Parkway in the area of Interstate 95 and PGA Village.

“We are on track,” School District spokeswoman Kerry Padrick said.

John Gillette, the district’s director of building services and maintenance, said after the sale closes, it’s just a matter of permitting and programming before the official groundbreaking in June.

Gillette said staff is working with the various administrative departments to ensure the floor plans will accommodate everyone and everything needed to make the district operate smoothly.

The district anticipates a grand opening by spring or summer 2019. “We need to get our ducks in a row,” Gillette said.

The district had expected to pay about $1.8 million for the property but that price tag might tick up slightly, according to Gillette. The district is working with the property owner, the Kolter Group, to partner on building a road on the property to service the administration building. That, according to Gillette, could increase the purchase price a bit.

Not much more is known about the future administration building. It will be three stories tall and about 107,000 square feet in size, sitting on 10 acres.

Gillette said no architectural renderings are available as of yet due to the shifting floor plans; once those are finalized, the architect can start sketching.

“We’re not settled,” Gillette said on what the building will look like. He said that the building’s style will be influenced by St. Lucie West, the community in which it will be located. “We want to look like part of the neighborhood.”

The board has hired Donadio and Associates, of Vero Beach, to provide the architectural services and Jacquin & Sons of Fort Pierce to serve as the construction manager.

The School District previously approved $17 million for the construction of the administration building – a price tag that does not include the land buy or the outfitting of furniture and the like. The building will replace the currently uninhabitable administration office the School District had at the former Orange Blossom mall in Fort Pierce. Orange Blossom flooded during Hurricane Irma. The district considered the possibility of relocating to an existing building, including Liberty Medical and VGTI, but decided to build new, instead.

The new building will have an expected lifespan of 50 years and will be centrally located for the bulk of St. Lucie County residents – and easily accessible via the Turnpike, I-95 and St. Lucie West Boulevard.  

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