City council committee set for second meeting on Showers building purchase for new police, fire HQ

At a city council committee meeting last Tuesday, Bloomington councilmember Steve Volan said to deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael: “With all due respect, this is a very basic question: How many stories did that figure contemplate—three for four?”

Volan was responding to a remark from Carmichael about a need to spend several hundred thousand dollars, in order to answer “fairly meaty” design questions.

The three-versus-four-story question was about a possible expansion to the existing police station on 3rd Street. Whether it’s a three-story or a four-story addition to the police station that was considered is not something that requires a design charrette to answer, Volan said.

But the number of stories in a possible expansion to the 3rd Street police station could be moot—at least from the administration’s perspective.

It was established at last Tuesday’s committee meeting that the administration appears committed to a “Plan B” that does not include new construction to expand the 3rd Street police station, but rather only renovation.

The council is not expected to vote on the Showers building purchase until Jan. 18. The council’s committee has a second meeting set for this coming Tuesday (Jan. 10).

Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s Plan A is a proposal to purchase the western portion of the former Showers Brothers Furniture Company building that houses city hall.

It’s part of Hamilton’s more than $30-million plan to incorporate a new police station and fire department administrative headquarters in the same building as city hall, as well as reconstruct the flood-damaged Fire Station #1 and remodel Fire Station #3.

But a final decision on the $8.75-million purchase of the Showers building, currently owned by CFC Properties, rests with Bloomington’s city council, because the price is greater than $5 million.

Even though the city council has already approved the issuance of $29.5 million in bonds, it delayed approval of the building purchase to take more time to scrutinize the numbers.

Tasked with a more detailed review of those numbers is the four-member city council committee, which met last Tuesday. Besides Volan, the committee members include: Dave Rollo, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, and council president Susan Sandberg.

This coming Tuesday (Jan. 10) at 2 p.m. the committee will hold a second meeting, to review the cost estimates of different options.

At the committee’s first meeting, the committee went through cost estimates of three options that had been presented by the administration, which the committee labeled Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

The option that the committee is calling “Plan B” would renovate and expand the existing police station on 3rd Street. Plan C would entail the purchase of land and completely new construction of a new police station and fire headquarters.

A basic question committee members had about most of the line items: What accounts for the difference in estimate between the different options?

For example, Volan wanted to know why the estimated owner’s rep cost for “Plan B” is listed as $3,200,250, but the estimated owner’s rep cost for the preferred “Plan A” is just $1,790,185.

Volan wanted to know the number of stories for the possible expansion of the 3rd Street police station under “Plan B”, because he wanted a clearer understanding of that plan’s estimated cost of new construction, which is $10.6 million. That figure includes $2 million for a ground floor parking deck that the police union says it does not need.

The 15 parking spaces in the surface lot just west of the police station—which would be lost if an addition were put on the existing police station—could be made up in part by eliminating the pedestrian walkway splitting the existing surface lot south of the building. Eliminating the walkway would be a possibility, because it would no longer connect to 3rd Street anyway. Converting the pedestrian walkway to parking would yield a half dozen spaces.

The administration was represented at Tuesday’s committee meeting by deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael and public engagement director Kaisa Goodman. In the back-and-forth between the committee and administration officials, Goodman said that the administration’s Plan B did not contemplate an addition of any square footage to the existing police station.

“We’re just using the same word for two different things. The administration has previously stated that Plan B is simply a renovation of the current station,” Goodman said.

Volan replied, “It’s not. There’s new construction.”

Goodman responded, “No, I understand that we provided a cost estimate. I’m saying that the administration doesn’t believe that Plan B is to expand the 3rd Street location.”

After a bit more back-and-forth Volan stated, “Yeah, I’m sorry. But literally, that column there says—it’s misspelled—but it says ‘Expand at BPD.’” Volan added, “So even though that’s not the administration’s intent, the estimation of what it would take to expand is the data we’re analyzing. And that’s what we’re using to compare and evaluate the administration’s plan.”

Answers to committee questions asked last Tuesday are expected to come from Deb Kunce, with J.S. Held, the architectural consultant for the Showers building renovation.

At the committee’s first meeting, Carmichael and Goodman questioned whether the police union had any qualified professionals who had reviewed the alternative analysis that the union had presented.

At next Tuesday’s meeting (Jan. 10), the council committee is expecting to hear from the police union to get more detail on the union’s analysis of the administration’s cost estimates for the proposals.

Table of Cost Estimates (**Not the administration’s actual “Plan B”)

Category Description (Plan A) BFD + BPD Renovate at Showers (Plan B**) BFD + BPD Expand at BPD (Plan C) BFD + BPD New Building
Construction Site $200,000 $800,000 $1,000,000
Construction Renovation $7,950,500 $5,000,000 $0
Construction New Construction $0 $10,600,000 $18,300,000
Construction Escalation $600,000 $800,000 $750,000
Construction Total $8,750,500 $17,200,000 $20,050,000
Equipment Equipment-IT $260,000 $275,000 $250,000
Equipment Equipment-Security $675,000 $695,000 $660,000
Equipment Equipment-AV $505,000 $515,000 $500,000
Equipment Equipment-Antenna/Radio $200,000 $0 $0
Equipment Escalation $140,000 $140,000 $130,000
Equipment Total $1,780,000 $1,625,000 $1,540,000
Soft Costs Bond Costs/Fees $300,000 $300,000 $250,000
Soft Costs AE/OR Fees $1,790,185 $3,200,250 $3,670,300
Soft Costs FFE $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $800,000
Soft Costs Relocation $65,000 $65,000 $50,000
Soft Costs Owner Constr Conting. $1,053,050 $1,882,500 $2,159,000
Soft Costs Total $4,208,235 $6,447,750 $6,929,300
Land Land Purchase $8,750,000 $0 $3,000,000
Grand Total $23,488,735 $25,272,750 $31,519,300
Area Square Footage 64,000 SF 35,000 SF 35,000 SF

2 thoughts on “City council committee set for second meeting on Showers building purchase for new police, fire HQ

  1. The idea that renovating an early 20th century brick and timber manufacturing facility to be a 21st century police headquarters is more efficient than building an addition to an existing police headquarters seems absurd on its face, even before one accounts for paying an excessive amount for the site.

    Merely moving the existing communications infrastructure from the old site to the new is said to cost in excess of one million dollars.

    Hooray to Steve Volan for his questioning of the public engagement director. What a strange exchange that was.

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