The new City Hall in Town Center was opened officially in a Nov. 3 ribbon cutting ceremony.
Hundreds of people crowded the lawn and the parking lot at Palm Coast’s new City Hall building for the city’s ribbon cutting ceremony the evening of Nov. 3, surpassing the city’s expectations — and the numbers of chairs allotted for the event — many times over, prompting laughter when City Manger Jim Landon jokingly told the mostly standing-room-only audience after the Pledge of Allegiance that they may be seated.
The tan, off-white and terra cotta-colored structure at 160 Lake Avenue is the first building constructed to house the city’s administration and the meetings of its elected officials. And with its opening, speakers told the audience, the city has arrived at a new era in its history.
"I look at this beautiful building, and I think that when we started the city in December, 1999, I, as a mayor, was holding office hours in the coffee shop of the old Kmart. ... I carried the complete city files in just one shopping bag. And the shopping bag wasn’t even full. It’s been a dramatic journey."
— Jim Canfield, first mayor of Palm Coast
“Nov. 3 2015: A new day, a new era,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said at the event. “Today is a historic moment in the narrative that defines our city. … There’s so much more than a city hall in this concrete, drywall and paint.”
He traced the city’s history.
“16 years ago, in 1999, your city leaders embarked on an endeavor to incorporate Palm Coast as an official Florida municipality,” he said. “This journey began with about 30,000 residents, and a city hall in a library.”
The new building, Netts said, “represents 16 years of strength, struggles and triumphs that have helped us discover our capabilities. Palm Coast’s City Hall symbolizes our city as a diverse location where people from many states, countries and many ethnicities have come together to stake out a common identity. Most of us have come to live here from someplace else. But today, we formally open the doors of our new City Hall as a communal place to assemble as Palm Coast residents.”
Netts said the city’s investment in the new building would encourage businesses and developers to come to Town Center, and that the new City Hall and other area projects — like the construction of the outdoor phase of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation Performing Arts Center, the Landings Apartment Complex, and the reconstruction of Town Center’s entrance to Bulldog Drive, “are all excellent illustrations that continue to fuel this area of economic opportunity.”
Palm Coast’s City Hall symbolizes our city as a diverse location where people from many states, countries and many ethnicities have come together to stake out a common identity. Most of us have come to live here from someplace else. But today, we formally open the doors of our new City Hall as a communal place to assemble as Palm Coast residents.
— Jon Netts, Palm Coast mayor
Landon noted that construction of the building, designed to highlight Palm Coast’s environmental consciousness, “was on schedule, and — as everyone told me we couldn’t do — it was on budget.” The audience applauded.
Palm Coast’s first mayor, Jim Canfield, gave the audience a sense of how far the city has come.
“I look at this beautiful building, and I think that when we started the city in December, 1999, I, as a mayor, was holding office hours in the coffee shop of the old Kmart. ... I carried the complete city files in just one shopping bag. And the shopping bag wasn’t even full,” he said. “It’s been a dramatic journey.”
Canfield recalled some of the contributions of the city’s first council members — Jim Holland, who he called the city’s “budget expert,” responsible for bringing in the RaceTrack gas station on Palm Coast Parkway; Jerry Full, “our treehugger,” Canfield said, who helped shape city ordinances on landscaping and setbacks; Bill Venne, a “peacemaker” who tried to smooth relations between the nascent city and the county; and Ralph Carter, who focused on affordable housing and council civility, and argued successfully to get the city to approve the construction of its first apartment building.
Three of those council members — Holland, Carter and Full — have since died,” Canfield said, “And they are probably, I would like to think, watching us now, and they would be very proud of what they see at this occasion.”
Canfield complimented the 2015 council —Mayor Netts and council members Jason DeLorenzo, Bill McGuire, Heidi Shipley and Steve Nobile, as well as Landon — for guiding the city government into its first permanent home. “They made it happen,” he said. “It took some political courage, and it took financing to get it done properly. And I think the first council, the council of December 1999, owe a great debt to the council of 2015. This building is your legacy, council of 2015.”
Netts welcomed the audience and the community to Palm Coats’s new City Hall.
“May we always remember with pride this very moment in Palm Coast’s odyssey,” he said. “This City Hall belongs to all of you. If we can share a vision for Palm Coast’s future, if we together can create a whole community that is better than its parts, we can forge a more vibrant and more attractive place to live, work and play.”