By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Under construction on Balm Riverview Road, the Riverview replacement library is set to open late summer with more than four times the space of the existing library. Its features include a recording studio, main lobby terrazzo floor, enclosed children’s area, covered screened-in porch and multiple meeting and community rooms, including some open after hours.
“Let’s face it, our community has grown and our community deserves a library of this stature,” said Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, which is expected to lease space in the new building. “It’s going to be a great community center, and I suspect people will drive to Riverview just to visit this library.”
Designed in what’s being called the “Old Florida Grandeur style,” the 35,000- square-foot building draws inspiration from vintage Florida postcards, reflecting a 1940’s coastal vibe, replete with shiplap wainscoting, bead board and ceiling fans, along with a covered and screened-in reading porch.
The project cost for the new building is estimated at $12.6 million. “It’s huge and it’s going to be an absolutely, stunningly beautiful building,” said David Wullschleger, operations manager for the Hillsborough County public library system. “It’s going to have all the modern features that library users are looking for and need.”
Moreover, it’s likely to be the first for the library system with the expected tenancy of the Riverview chamber. “It’s not a done deal yet, but we’re working with the county’s real estate department to work out a lease,” Wullschleger said. “We have a good relationship with the chamber, and this can make it stronger. We are very interested in helping people who want to go into business or get jobs, and the chamber helps us help those people.”
Doran said chamber officials are “very hopeful” a lease is forthcoming. “My understanding is this is the first time within Hillsborough County this type of partnership is being established, and we are thrilled at having this opportunity,” she said. “We want it to be a successful library, supportive of our local business community and a valuable resource for everybody. We love being able to play a part in that role.”
Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, whose District 4 includes Riverview, said he supports a chamber lease. “Nothing’s official, because they haven’t signed on the dotted line yet, but I do think we’re well on our way to having some space there for the Riverview chamber, and I would be excited to see that happen.”
According to design plans, the replacement library will have meeting rooms of various sizes and a divisible multipurpose community room that can sit up to 150 people. Designed to silver LEED standards, the building features a solar panel power system and an electric car charging station. The recording studio features two editing suites. Also on tap are a vending café, Friends of the Library bookstore, “Maker Space,” for creative projects, and multiple types of seating arrangements with access to power and Wi-Fi.
“The design of the building is grand but comfortable, and we’ll have a variety of spaces where people can work on their own individually or collaboratively with others,” Wullschleger said. “We’ll have computers people can use, or you can bring your own. There will be stained glass windows in the reading room, and the entrance lobby is going to have a terrazzo floor.”
The concept sketch for that floor, featuring marble chips in concrete, calls for a “River of Fire” design, “reinforcing thousands of years of fire myths and their origins based upon the accumulation of knowledge.”
The existing 8,000-square-foot Riverview Library, at 10509 Riverview Drive, opened in 1979 on land owned by Cargill, Inc. According to Wullschleger, that land carries a reverter clause, which means “if we stop using it for a library, ownership goes back to Cargill.”
The current one-room library has a 55-seat meeting room, which is not accessible after hours; the library itself is considered “functionally obsolete.”
In contrast, the replacement library has a 5,000- square-foot children’s area and “five spaces off the main lobby of the library that can be accessible after hours by reservation,” Wullschleger said. “The emphasis will be on community groups and gatherings.”
The new library, expected to open “in late July or August, if things go as planned,” is eagerly awaited, Wullschleger added. “Libraries make communities better places to live and work, and it’s exciting to be a part of that.”
The replacement library is at 10003 Balm Riverview Road, across the street from the Lakes of Cristina deed-restricted community and a few miles from Riverview High School. For more information, including design plans and 360 views of the reading room and lobby, visit the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative at www.hcplc.org/locations/riverview-replacement.