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Times of the Islands Magazine

Island Architect Behind Sanibel Community House Makeover

Jan 01, 2017 06:44PM ● By Ryan Frisch

Photo by Craig Garrett

Thinking behind the makeover of the Community House was to retain its historic character but to modernize and add space. That duty fell to Amy Nowacki, the Sanibel architect designing the completion. Benchmark General Contractors supervised the $3 million project. Re-opening in late January also recognizes the center’s 90 years―Captiva’s Curtis Perry in the 1920s knocked on doors seeking donations for a community center. It was in the following years twice renovated. “I think the community will be pleased,” Nowacki says of the modernization.

Island authorities first pictured a brand new community house across Periwinkle Way in a cluster of other structures amid BIG ARTS and the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. The Civic Core town center remains a consideration.

But Sanibel Community House directors a couple of years ago decided to keep the building where it stands, however, largely because improvements couldn’t wait, says Teresa Riska-Hall, its executive director. Changes in the new structure include breezeways and a portico, a big kitchen, more space for clubs, offices, performances and events, federally compliant restrooms. Some wood flooring was salvaged.

Construction cancelled holiday events, but it will open well before a giant shell show in March. “We are very excited about completing this community-wide project and to have so many hands and hearts coming forward to assist in the efforts,” Riska-Hall says. “[Amy Nowacki] has really done a great job in creating a building with island charm which still allows the history of the 1927 house to shine through. We are thrilled and can’t wait to open the doors to our community.”