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Thursday’s Monitor article on the competing concepts for the new Municipal Building was confusing on a fundamental consideration – cost. The proposal for the current site at Ashley Pond is $20M. The proposal actually presented for the 15th and Trinity location greatly exceeds the county’s already generous specifications. The associated cost estimate for the County portion of that project is $28M. A rough scaling to the required size would yield a cost of about $25M.
The developer for the 15th and Trinity site has not so far provided a conceptual design that actually reflects the county’s stated requirements. Incredibly, the cost estimate presented to the community is not for the design being touted. It is no wonder there is confusion.
The cost difference between the two concepts is actually even greater. The Ashley Pond site proposal was based on construction unit costs and contingency about 30 percent more conservative (i.e., higher) than the 15th and Trinity proposal and also includes $635,000 for an unneeded traffic signal.
The county budget contains $15.8M for the project. With tight management of a building project at the Ashley Pond site, a project cost near that number should be achievable. The proposal for 15th and Trinity is inherently much more expensive since it has to include land purchase, parking underneath the building, developer profit and contributions to the private side of the development.
Robert B. Gibson