Mayor Teresa Tomlinson’s Commission on New Government and Judicial Building is considering at least three options to address problems at the Government Center.
All three were discussed last week at the commission’s third meeting. The options are:
• Renovate the existing facility and add space to accommodate for both judicial and city government needs.
• Build a new facility to accommodate both judicial and administrative activities.
• Build two new buildings, one for judicial offices and the other for city government.
Michael Starr, a senior partner at 2WR, a local architectural firm, presented the commission with estimates based on a building assessment conducted by the company in 2013. He said the estimates were preliminary and there’s usually a 10 percent variation in cost estimates, which could change based on market conditions, design, location, topography and other factors.
Under option 1, the city would renovate 277,632 square feet at the existing government center, and add 26,483 square-feet of additional space, for a total of 303,306 square feet. That option would cost an estimated $68 million, according to the architects.
Though renovating the facility had the perceived lowest cost, Starr said the estimate was based on a visual assessment of the property. He said the cost could be higher or lower based on what contractors find with internal systems once the project begins.
“It’s a lot like a car,” said Scott Allen, another senior partner with 2WR. “You can look at a car and go, ‘OK, it’s a 2000 Honda and it should be good for 200,000 miles, but it also depends on how it was maintained and what year we are. But until you hook the computer up to it, you don’t know exactly which inefficiencies there are.”
Hugley said with such unknowns “you could get in so deep and wish you could turn around and start over and do new but you’ve just gotten in too far.”
“If you choose that horse, you better be ready to ride it,” he said, “because as elected officials... you come back and you get into all of these change-orders and all of that, politically, somebody’s not going to be happy.”
Option 2 would involve the construction of a 303,306 square-foot facility at a cost of $87 million. Option 3 would cost $95.6 million for a 238,106-square-foot judicial building and a 65,200-square-foot government center.
All three options included the cost of building an additional parking deck, which some members of the commission said would not be necessary because parking is already available in the area.
Options 2 and 3 didn’t included costs for demolishing the tower, which 2WR estimated at about $3.2 million. The estimates also don’t include expenses for relocating employees during construction.
In February, City Inspection and Codes Director John Hudgison said the demolition would cost an extra $62,557,638 based on the 2WR assessment. But Starr and Tomlinson said that information was misrepresented at that meeting.