By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
As one major town building project concludes, another one ramps up. The Sullivan’s Island Elementary School dedication ceremony took place Monday, Sept. 22, a week after the town of Sullivan’s Island unveiled the final designs for the new Town Hall/ Police Station.
“It’s very nice,” was the response of the majority of the public assembled at a special Sullivan’s Island Council meeting on Sept. 8, 2014 to get the first glimpse of the new building.
And indeed it is, in fact it is quite possibly the most attractive Town Hall to be built this century. In an age when civic buildings are built purely from practical standpoints and less for aesthetic reasons, the new Sullivan’s Island’s Town Hall stands out from the crowd, looking more like a Southern plantation house than a place for police and council business.
“We were trying to make it fit the character of the town,” explained David Creech, of Creech and Associates Architectural Design, at the special presentation. “We determined that porches are nice.”
The design picks up on public comments from the two previous public meetings held to discuss the design of the building, including bringing the building closer to the street, moving the footprint out of the adjoining Stith Park completely, and including those quaint wraparound porches to bring the character more in line with the rest of the island.
According to the presentation by David Creech the building will be situated about 25 feet from the back of the curb, between the park and the fire station, just in front of the entrance to the mound—leaving full access to the mound. The structure is about 75 feet wide, 48 feet high and its total square footage is 9,500. While it is a few feet higher than the fire station, the ground under the fire station was brought up, so both buildings will appear to be of similar height.
The first floor will consist of Town Administrative staff offices, a customer service area with access to the Water and Sewer department, Municipal Court, Town Clerk and Building Permits. A community room / council chambers occupies a large portion of the floor, and has been designated as an emergency operations hub when necessary.
The second floor is occupied by the police department, although about a third of the floor space is being left unfinished for future expansion.
The ground floor holds public restrooms for the park and storage facilities. It also includes ground floor access to an elevator. To see the floor plans visit www.sullivansisland-sc.com. The consideration for a new town hall/police station has been part of the Town’s strategic plan for over 15 years.
In 2011 health and environmental concerns at the previous building, 1610 Middle Street, prompted council to move staff into temporary trailers. The trailers cost the town $4,000 a month in rent. The estimated cost of the new building is $3.5 million.
The first community meeting regarding the design was held in Sept. 2013, a second in November and, following design reviews incorporating comments from those meetings, the third public meeting, held on Sept. 8, revealed the final design.
Comments from the crowd at the meeting included “I really like what you’ve done; it’s very nice,” and “I think the design you’re showing here is much more harmonious with the island architecture, I really like it.”
“Getting from where we started to today—making the changes we have made following your input—is a huge difference,” Hartley Cooper, chair of the Public Facilities Committee, said. The only major concern brought up during the meeting was about the amount of parking.
There are 28 spaces designated for parking behind the building, access to which will be off Station 20 1/2. Staff and police cars will occupy 20 spaces, leaving eight for the public, however there will be some limited on street parking available.
Following the largely positive reception council voted unanimously to move forward and voted to allow the architect to complete the Design Documents phase of the project.
This is estimated to take four to six weeks and will be followed by drawing up the Construction Documents, a process that will take two months. This puts the project on track to break ground in January or early February of 2015.