Most of the $8 million renovation cost was paid for with tax money.
The newly renovated Palm Coast Community Center's rooms feature soft, beachy pastels, large windows, glass doors and high ceilings. Hundreds of residents toured those rooms for the first time March 23 since the center closed for renovations in early February, 2017.
"It's absolutely gorgeous," said Karen Chrostowski, who was attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony with her husband, Jim Chrostowski. The couple are snowbirds who recently bought a condo in Palm Coast, she said. "We are so impressed with Palm Coast. Everything is so beautiful. This is like a little gem."
The $8 million renovation process more than tripled the size of the Community Center, which had been built by ITT in 1975, to about 21,000 feet.
"It is groundbreaking and dazzling, a beautiful place for recreation and socialization," Mayor Milissa Holland said in a speech before the ribbon cutting. "It will be the core of our activity and connectivity. It will be a hub for exploring and learning. Today establishes a new foundation for a life well lived in our city."
The renovated center, at 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE, features an open courtyard, a playground, lighted basketball courts and four meeting rooms, with seating ranging from 45 to 225. Part of the expanded parking lot is shaded with solar panels. Old oaks shade picnic tables in the courtyard. A trailhead for Linear Park trail has a new restroom building. The center is also the new home of the city's Parks and Recreation department.
Most of the $8 million construction cost was paid for with tax money, Holland said.
"The money you spend here in Palm Coast stays here," she said. "Because you're spending money at Palm Coast shops and restaurants and gas stations, your cash has gone into a dedicated reserve for projects like this Community Center. Thanks to you, this remarkable facility was constructed without the city needing to borrow a single penny."
Holland added that the city preserved the historic oaks on the site during the construction process and had achieved LEED certification as an environmentally sustainable site.
"Preserving our natural environment and supporting our clean atmosphere is what we do best," Holland said. "Once our City Council cuts this ribbon, this place will find its way into our hearts. We may have altered the old building, but we saved the memories and the love."