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When Hurricane Charley struck the Southwest coast of Florida in 2004, one of the schools that received the most devastation was Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda. The existing 3-story building, which was built in 1926, required extensive restoration in order to preserve its historic integrity. Renovations to several newer areas of the campus were also necessary. Ajax was chosen as the Construction Manager for the 5-phased $79 million project.
The entire project centered around the restoration of the 3-story 1926 historic building, which also included a structural renovation. Reconstructing the campus involved replacing all the remaining building damaged by the Hurricane Charley. The new construction connected all remaining buildings into a cohesive single building with interior corridors, replacing the original 1926 – era campus style buildings. New construction totaled 236,000 square feet, with 148,000 square feet of existing space.
The new construction included classroom wings for 9th and & 10th grades, a media and technology building, additions for the arts and physical education departments, and a multi-purpose room to replace the original 1926 – era auditorium damaged by the storm. Four of the five existing buildings remaining, required minor upgrades, primarily to mechanical, electrical and fire protection systems.
Ajax also constructed a new football stadium and athletic field house. In addition, new baseball and softball fields, along with a soccer field, tennis courts and an ancillary gymnasium were constructed. A chiller plant was also included with this project, as well as all the associated site work and utilities for the entire campus.
No other school district statewide or nationally had ever experienced such loss and damage due to a natural disaster. The schools lost their familiar, well worn buildings that had been used by generations of Charlotte County children and families. This school that was completely lost in those August 2004 winds. However, countless numbers of caring people and organizations gave tirelessly to the recovery efforts. These people and the students inspired Ajax to build a new campus that arose from the rubble.