County chooses old hospital for new Sheriff's Office

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. August 2, 2013
The hospital will need to be gutted and repaired. File photo.
The hospital will need to be gutted and repaired. File photo.
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • News
  • Share

After considering seven options, the Flagler County Commission decided to purchase the old Memorial Hospital in Bunnell to house the headquarters of the Sheriff's Office. The purchase was approved this week in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Charlie Ericksen dissenting.

The 66,000-square-foot building carries an estimated cost of purchase and rehabilitation of $6.075 million. The sheriff will use about 22,000 square feet of space, leaving vast options for other uses on the property.

The commission examined six other options for housing the new headquarters before deciding on the old hospital. Other options included the annex of the courthouse in Bunnell, which would cost an estimated $5.7 million, and constructing an east wing of the courthouse at the Government Services Building for $7.180 million.

The old hospital was appealing to commissioners for its size, its flexibility for future expansion as the county grows and its location.

“It’s not the cheapest,” said County Administrator Craig Coffey. “But it’s the best overall value.”

Sheriff Jim Manfre said that the presense of his headquarters will help prevent crime solely because of the visibility of the Sheriff’s Office and deputy patrol cars. The old hospital, Manfre said, is close to a high-crime area, as is the courthouse annex.

More than a dozen people addressed the commission before it made its decision. Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez said he supported the purchase of the old hospital, as did Catherine Robinson, the city’s mayor.

Those opposed to the purchase worried that the estimates for repair costs that were generated using independent companies would prove too low as construction work began.

“Estimates are sometimes very much a moving target, and we need to get more factual on this,” said Dennis McDonald, of Palm Coast.

But Coffey said staff was conservative in its estimates.

Others have questioned the purchase because of the old hospital’s current owners: Bruce Page, CEO of Intracoastal bank; Michael Chiumento, an attorney; and James Neslow, a builder. Critics have said that the commission favored the old hospital as a way to help those close to them.

Before the commission voted on the purchase, its members said again that they were voting based on the building itself, and not its owners.

“If I had a dime for every time I made a decision someone didn’t like and they walked away saying, ‘Well, you’re in somebody’s pocket,’ I’d be a very rich man,” said Commission Chair Nate McLaughlin, adding that the board members are acting with integrity and have all researched their options thoroughly.

“Who is an owner of this building and whether they make a profit is not as material as, ‘Does it appraise?’ and ‘Can we make it work?’ and ‘Are we meeting the needs of our people?’” McLaughlin said.

Staff will move forward with the purchase and enter into the design stage of the process, which will further cement the estimated costs of rehabilitating the hospital, a stage that will likely take upwards of six months, Coffey said.


  Courthouse Annex Old Jail Old Hospital if Rehabilitated Old Hospital if Demolished and Rebuilt GSB, south of the Emergency Operations Center GSB, south of Circular Road GSB, east Courthouse wing
Property Purchase Cost (*) None None $1,230,000 $1,230,000 None None None
Building Construction $4,000,000 4,555,000 3,535,000 4,555,000 4,555,000 4,555,000 5,980,000
Site Work $400,000 $500,000 $300,000 $300,000 $500,000 $500,000 $100,000
Architect, Permits etc. $250,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000
Demolition Costs None $350,000 None $700,000 $25,000 None None
Brick Facade Work $100,000 None None None None None None
Structural Upgrades (**) $300,000 None $450,000 None None None None
Transportation Impact Fees (***) None $15,000 None None $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Water and Sewer Impact Fees None $10,000 None None $25,000 $25,000 $25,000
Wetland and Floodplain Mitigation None $50,000 None None $100,000 $300,000 None
Furnishings $250,000 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000
Contingencies $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000
Totals $5,700,000 6,530,000 6,555,000 7,835,000 6,280,000 6,455,000 7,180,000



Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.