Sewage Station Gets Civic Look



What do a sewage lift station and a city hall have in common? If you said similar architecture, you likely have seen Sarasota's plans for a new facility in Luke Wood Park. City officials on Tuesday unveiled new plans for the lift station at Luke Wood that show the above-ground structure will look like the Hover building, the structure that served for decades as Sarasota's historic City Hall. The city settled on this architecture after holding public meetings with residents in nearby neighborhoods.

“We know residents want to keep the project moving," said Matt Tidwell, Sarasota utility director, "and now that we have a design, we’ll start the City’s site-planning review process. 

Sarasota officials in May decided to move forward with an above-ground design after underground designs were determined to be unfeasible. The city is now embroiled in a lawsuit with prior engineers about the project, and last year hired engineering firm McKim and Creed to take over the project.

The lift station at Luke Wood Park has been controversial since the project's inception. After sewage spills at Lift Station 7 by Hudson Bayou exposed issues with the administration at the time, city officials decided to move the lift station and build a new one at Luke Wood Park. The project has been plagued by engineering concerns and cost overruns. The project now could cost in excess of $25 million.

McKim and Creed hired local architect Jack Christie to design the exterior of the building, according to Sarasota city spokeswoman Jan Thornburg. Christie has been working with Sarasota's Urban Design Studio on the project. Sarasota had considered Spanish mission architecture and modern architecture designs as well.

Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman said residents at community meetings wanted a classic architecture to the station. "They wanted a more historic look at the building," she said, "something that represented iconic buildings of the past."

The building specifically harkens the Hover Arcade building, a Sarasota Bayfront structure that once surrounded a prominent fishing pier with two iconic 40-foot towers. The Hover building in 1917 was purchased by the city and officials ultimately moved all City Hall functions into the building. Municipal government moved into the current City Hall in the 1950s and the Hover Arcade was demolished in 1967, according to Sarasota History Alive.

Chapman said because the building will be recognizable from a distance, it will be easily identified as a civic building. Animatics of the plan show as well that the new structure will be largely hidden behind trees and other landscaping. 

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