Out With The Old, In With The New

Little has changed on the outside of the building; the inside of the Old Synovus Bank property in Valparaiso had begun its transformation into the new city hall for the City of Valparaiso. 

The city bought the building in 2023, and the City Administrator, Carl Scott, says that the building could be move-in ready as soon as April 2024. But that date comes with plenty of provisos, including installing an elevator to make the building compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). 

As you enter the building, sheetrock and exposed two-by-fours greet you in what will become the lobby. Off to the left, behind the first walled security partition, are the offices of the Mayor, Clerk, and future city manager. On the other side of the cubicle farm area, which takes up the middle portion of the building on the first, is the old safety deposit box, complete with the ‘Bank of Valparaiso’ seal from back in the day. 

The commission chambers are at the back of the building, where city leaders and citizens will meet for regular business and monthly meetings. A window on the back wall provides a view of the old gas station-turned coffee shop and John Sims Parkway as it meanders south toward Eglin Air Force Base.  

Up the stairs sits the area the city will rent to private businesses. According to calculations by City Administrator Carl Scott, the 6,000 or so square feet above the city government level could bring in $120,000 per month in revenue. None of the walls at the top that intersect into the building are load-bearing – meaning the city has unlimited options for splitting up the building to accommodate tenants. 

Waiting

But the stumbling block that hinders the city’s progress most is its rules. “We two quotes, but we’ve gotta have three,” Carl Scott said, “still waiting on our third quote before starting our electrical. Once they get in here, it will be an unknown amount of time.”

The required elevator, a $70,000 cost, also acts as a roadblock for the city. They needed to get an elevator shaft approved before they could start on the electrical portion of the building construction – an issue sorted out at the last construction.

Man speaks at a podium
Carl Scott serves as the current City Administrator of Valparaiso. The new City Manager/Administrator position would not replace Scott. Instead, it would place a new management head at the top of the city's workforce and clearly delineate Scott as the city's building official.

The Credit Union

At November’s commission meeting, a representative from Okaloosa County Teachers Federal Credit Union requested a deal with the city to lease part of the space on the first floor of the building for their new Niceville-Valparaiso area branch.

The Credit Union Representative hoped to sign a lease by January first. They’re moving out of their current spot at that point.

“January first is probably pushing it hard,” Scott said.

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