LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Ryan Heise, Lakewood Ranch operations director, was all smiles as he walked through the community's brand-new maintenance facility this week.
Manatee County had issued a certificate of occupancy for the $2 million building, and the final punchlist walk-through found very little that wasn't just as it should be.
Not that there weren't a few challenges along the way since the groundbreaking in March, including a drought-ending deluge of rain that officials say dumped more than five feet of water on the construction site.
"At the beginning of the project there was a horrendous amount of rainfall," said engineer Norman Robertson of Atkins North America, Inc. "The project was on a very tight schedule. Magnum Builders has been an outstanding contractor to work with. When they couldn't work in one area, they moved to another. Now here we are, ready to move in."
Discussions about a maintenance facility to replace cramped and insufficient space began nearly five years ago with Inter-District Authority Chair Tom Green, and former community manager Bob Fernandez, Heise said.
The need to open a new facility took on new urgency when Pinnacle Academy, owner of the leased land being used for the maintenance facility, needed it back for expansion.
With the new facility now completed at 15207 59th Ave.
E, -- within sight of Premier Sports Campus and the Lakewood Ranch Post Office -- move in should be completed by Christmas, Heise said.
The facility will house maintenance and landscape operations, and include room for secure storage, assembly, and light maintenance, as well as provide a base of operations for a staff of 18. It also has a conference room, which can host meetings, including with residents who have maintenance concerns.
"It is a beautiful facility and will be a great place to work from. We have a secure place to put our tools and equipment," said maintenance manager Paul Chetlain. The building is constructed to withstand winds of 150 mph.
In the past, storage has been a major concern, with some supplies having to be stored offsite.
Cooperation was a key in the successful and on-time completion of the building, Heise said, singling out developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Magnum Construction and the county.
"It was wonderful working with Manatee County. We have gotten cooperation at every level. It's been a real pleasure," Heise said.
The Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority and Community Development Districts plan a ribbon cutting ceremony 3 p.m. Jan. 9 at the facility. The public is invited. Refreshments and cake will be served.
Business hours will be 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
For more information, call Lakewood Ranch Town Hall at 941-907-0202 or visit www.lakewoodranchgov.org.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.