Garner town council warily approved an architectural services agreement with ADW Architects for a police station initially slated to run over budget and pinch Town Hall plans.
The preliminary estimate pegged the total project cost at $4.76 million (5.8 percent over budget) once the town opted for a “Green Build” add-on. The Green Build would recover its $78,000 cost through energy savings in 6-10 years, according to ADW.
Of the $12 million public facilities bond passed in March, council budgeted $4.5 million to transform a former medical office building into a new police station at 912 Seventh Ave. The rest of the bond will rebuild town hall. Going over budget on the station would reduce funds available for the town hall unless the council dipped into reserves.
Councilman Gra Singleton worried that if the town hall also saw costs rise, the overall increase could become substantial, and Councilman Ken Marshburn also worried about squeezing Town Hall too much. Ultimately, the town moved forward with assurances from staff that budget issues could be addressed during design.
The bond total was based on earlier estimates from another firm. With a services agreement, ADW will move toward a blueprint that will give the council an even better idea what the project would cost.
“The faster we get them started, the faster they get back to us with some more of those options,” Town Manager Hardin Watkins said. “We’ll have better information several months from now.”
In addition, Town Engineer Frank Powell said ADW would be flexible with cost options as the project moved along.
“If you tell them to build it for $4.5 million, they will do that,” Powell said.
The initial project estimate was $4.69 million before green options were presented. The council ruled out pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. LEED would have increased the total cost by $162,200, to about $4.85 million.
Green Build will bring the total to $4.76 million and provide the tangible benefits of LEED. ADW also presented a Green Build Lite option that would cost half as much and have a similar payback time (and reduced future savings). The town opted for Green Build, but while a decision on LEED was required, the town can change its mind on green elements as the project moves along.
ADW’s detailed cost estimate comes before the building has been fully designed. It includes $361,000 for architectural services and engineering, $3.4 million in construction costs, $175,000 to meet current building codes and other detailed costs, right down to break room and exercise equipment.
It also has $100,000 for potential construction market escalation, which Councilman Buck Kennedy – an engineer – feared could be “mighty small.”
“They’ve given us a lot of information but it’s just conjecture and speculation,” Watkins said, noting ADW could encounter both pleasant surprises and unpleasant ones. “They built a pretty good estimate but you don’t know the costs until you enter into a construction contract.”
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter @GarnerCleveland.