by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel City Council took formal action this week on the Center4Life project – unanimously voting to complete the comprehensive assessment of its recreation department and facilities and evaluate the structural footprint of the former Sanibel Captiva Community Bank building at 2475 Library Way.
The comprehensive assessment by BerryDunn got underway this week and includes Center4Life, the island’s senior center. It will examine space for senior programming at the Sanibel Recreation Center and the former bank building purchased by the city in December 2019 to be the new home for Center4Life.
The senior center has been located at 2401 Library Way since the city purchased the building in the early 1990s. It shares the 5,080 square-feet building with the island’s affordable housing organization Community Housing & Resources, which has an agreement with the city to provide office space.
Center4Life has been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic and ventilation concerns. In October 2021, limited programming resumed in the Osprey Room at the Sanibel Recreation Center. The Island Seniors organization, which coordinates activities at the senior center, says they need more space for storage and activities.
Island Seniors Board Member Katie Reid told council in a Center4Life workshop on Jan. 26 the group had to find larger spaces for potlucks, socials and their annual meetings. They also need more storage space, especially for the Trash and Treasures fundraiser donations, as well as outdoor activity space.
Reid also told council seniors were not in favor of moving to the recreation center, saying they prefer a more “homey” feel than the “sterile atmosphere” of the rec center. Plus, it’s two miles further than the Library Way location.
Architect Amy Nowacki was hired in 2020 for the Center4Life project and conducted an architectural review and analysis of the 4,340 square-feet former bank building. Council was presented with two options from that study:
Option A: Renovate the existing footprint and add 4,750 square feet to the single-story building with Center4Life on the east side and CHR on the west side. Preliminary cost estimate was $1,987,500.
Option B: Renovate and add a 6,978 square-feet second story with Center4Life occupying the first floor and CHR, along with “flex space,” on the second floor. Preliminary cost estimate was $2,653,900.
Those preliminary estimates do not include design costs, demolition of the current Center4Life building or site development. The city has $3.1 million in a capital project fund to complete renovations, along with a 15-year bank loan.
But in the Center4Life workshop, an Option C was put on the table: evaluate the existing structural footprint of the former bank building. That was the option on which council unanimously voted to move forward while the comprehensive recreation department assessment is underway.
The assessment, approved in January for $74,430, is estimated to take 8 to 10 months, but a refined schedule, along with a revised project schedule, will be brought back before council.
Additionally, council voted this week to obtain a cost estimate for an appraisal on the four Library Way properties owned by the city – 2475, 2431, 2401 and an adjacent parcel. The appraisal cost estimate will be on the council’s agenda in March.
In the Feb. 1 council meeting, Mayor Holly Smith said she was “excited” to have community engagement on the Center4Life project and for the kick-off of the comprehensive recreation department assessment.