As Palm Coast’s new city hall goes up in Town Center, two rooms in the bottom floor of the Chiumento building across the lake from it will be remade to accommodate another government body: the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry will use the space as an honorary consulate to replace a consulate in Orlando that must be shut down because its lease is ending, said Palm Coast Holdings Vice President David Lusby. Palm Coast Holdings owns the space the honorary consulate will be leasing.
“We really wanted them in Town Center and in that building — it’s an important user coming to Palm Coast,” Lusby said. “This is a pretty big deal, because there are people who have to do business with the Portuguese consulate from all over Florida or even further than Florida who will come to Palm Coast.”
The Portuguese government will rent temporary space on the building’s third floor as the lower floor is renovated to its specifications.
“We have a signed lease for temporary space on the third floor, and we’re currently negotiating a lease with them for two units on the ground floor for the consulate to relocate to Palm Coast,” Lusby said in an interview Jan. 12. “We’ll probably have that in their hands tomorrow. All of the basic terms have bee agreed to, and I don’t anticipate any problems,” he added.
The honorary consulate, to be named after the Summit Nutritionals International CEO Caesar DePaco, would pay $1 per month for the temporary space on the third floor of the Chiumento building for up to about five months while the two units on the bottom floor, units 105 and 106, are reworked for its use, Lusby said.
Then, according to the lease that is being finalized, it would pay about $4,500 per month for the roughly 2,850 square feet of first-floor space, he said.
“Very initial conversations” about the use of the space for the honorary consulate began just before Christmas 2014, Lusby said. The number of employees at the site, he said, will probably be fairly minimal: probably a consular general and vice consular general, and four or five employees.
Portuguese American Cultural Center President Eddie Branquinho, who has been working with the DePaco on the non-diplomatic aspects of coordinating the honorary consulate’s move to Palm Coast, said it will have to be accredited by the State Department before it begins diplomatic functioning, a process that has already begun and usually takes several months.
Once that happens, Branquinho said, the honorary consulate will be able to handle legal documentation and representation of Portuguese citizens on behalf of the Portuguese government. Honorary consulates do not issue visas.
Portugal has an embassy in Washington, D.C., six full consulates, and 12 honorary consulates, according to the official Embassy of Portugal to the Unites States website. The nearest — other than the Orlando location, which is no longer on the list and is being shut down for the move — is an honorary consulate in Miami, according to the site.