Cathy DuPont, Public Information Coordinator for the City of St. Augustine, reported to Historic City News that a portion of the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center has been temporarily closed for repairs.
The work, expected to last well into next year, is necessary to address problems in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system serving the restrooms and entrance lobby.
The public restrooms at the Visitor Information Center were closed today to accommodate the repairs. During the time the restrooms are closed, temporary restrooms will ensure the same level of service for visitors.
The only area affected was added to the original structure in 2006; including the west portion of the building containing the restrooms and the lobby.
All other areas of the Visitor Information Center, which opened in 1935, including the information desk, gift shop and tour ticket sales areas, are unaffected and remain open.
The repairs will correct problems attributed to air conditioning ducts that have been sweating from excess humidity. This has created elevated moisture between the ceiling and the roof in the 2006 addition.
The problem was first detected in late September when employees noticed water stains and what appeared to be microbial growth on the interior ceiling. A thorough inspection by Skyetec, an indoor environmental consulting firm, recommended a comprehensive evaluation of the HVAC system and alleviation of the microbial growth.
As soon as the extent of the problem was evident, the decision was made to close the facilities and initiate immediate repairs.
The Visitor Information Center began as the city’s Civic Center to provide activities for visitors. The original building included a main hall with seating for 500, a 36’ stage and lounge rooms furnished with bridge tables and leather padded chairs.
In 2005 and 2006, the Visitor Information Center underwent extensive renovations as part of the construction of the adjacent Historic Downtown Parking Facility. The parking facility opened in July of 2006 and the Visitor Information Center was dedicated in December of that year.
The parking facility and the Visitor Information Center, together a nearly $20 million project, were designed and constructed by Perry-McCall Construction, Inc., Walker Parking Consultants, Les Thomas Architect, Inc., Halback Design Group, and Dixon and Associates Architects.
As the primary tourist entry point to St. Augustine and St. Johns County, the Visitor Information Center, funded in part by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, serves hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
City officials are committed to completing the repairs as expeditiously as possible and with minimum effect on the level of service afforded the area’s visitors.
Photo credit: © 2009 Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire