Board may place Crestwood police renovation on back burner at meeting this week
June 29, 2005 - The Crestwood Board of Aldermen this week could decide the fate of the renovation of City Hall to include a new police facility.
The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.
Bids for the renovation project were opened last week and the lowest base bid totals roughly $1 million more than the cost estimated by the project's architect, Horner & Shifrin Inc.
Given that, Public Works Director Jim Eckrich states that two options appear to exist for the board to consider — shelving the project and defeasing the bond-like certificates issued to fund it or substantially redesigning the project at an additional cost. The city in November 2002 issued $9.83 million in certificates of participation, or COPs, to fund the project.
The bids coming in higher than projected is the latest setback to the voter-approved project, originally proposed as a stand-alone police building in 2002.
Due to the rising costs of concrete and steel, aldermen last June scrapped the construction of the stand-alone police building and decided to renovate City Hall to include a new police facility. Aldermen authorized City Administrator Don Greer to renegotiate an agreement with Horner & Shifrin to begin designing a police facility that would be incorporated into City Hall.
Given the city's well-publicized financial woes, public sentiment against the project has been rising, culminating in a petition drive by a citizens' group, the Crestwood Citizens for Financial Responsibility, seeking reconsideration of an ordinance approving a lease agreement with the Westfield Corp.
As proposed, the city would lease office space at the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood for roughly 18 months while the renovation of City Hall to include a new police facility takes place. Under the agreement, the city would lease roughly 14,827 square feet of office space at a cost of $3,333.33 per month.
Roughly 1,125 signatures of the city's registered voters were needed for reconsideration of the ordinance and the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners has certified that the group collected 2,201 valid signatures.
The City Charter states that if an ordinance is returned to the Board of Aldermen and the board fails to repeal the measure, voters then will consider it at a city election. Such an election would cost roughly $10,000, according to the group's petition.
The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to reconsider the Westfield lease ordinance Tuesday night — after the Call's press time.
In a June 13 letter to Greer, Westfield Development Director G. Todd Rogan wrote, "... We do not want the lease to be an issue of concern for either the city or residents. Please accept this correspondence as Westfield's offer to cancel the temporary lease of office space at Westfield Crestwood.''
In a June 22 memorandum to Greer, Eckrich noted that seven bids were received for the renovation of City Hall to include a new police facility with the lowest base bid of $5,966,011 submitted by Hankins Contracting.
"Hankins Contracting submitted the lowest base bid, which does not include any of the alternatives or allowances,'' Eckrich wrote. "The estimated cost for the base bid, completed by Horner & Shifrin, was $4,875,820 ... The submitted low bid is $1,090,191 over the estimated cost. Based upon a budget of $8.7 million, the submitted low bid is also $260,745 over the budgeted amount for this project.''
In his memo, Eckrich stated that if the Board of Aldermen decides to proceed with the project, "a substantial redesign will be necessary. I do not believe that $1.1 million can be value engineered from the existing project. It would be difficult to value engineer $300,000 out of the project and that would leave no room for change orders, which almost always accompany a project such as this.''
Two options, the public works director stated, appear to exist for the Board of Aldermen to consider:
• "Full defeasance of the certificates of participation and a shelving of this project. If the Board of Aldermen chooses this option, they could save a sum of money from the capital improvements fund each year and use that money to make improvements to the Government Center (City Hall) and police facilities on an incremental basis,'' Eckrich stated
• "A substantial redesign of the Government Center renovations. At this point, it may be prudent for the Board of Aldermen to consider modifying the proposed structure to significantly reduce costs. Modifications could include removing the second floor; removing or reducing the administration wing; (or) designing a building addition around the existing structure to avoid extensive demolition costs and relocation fees,'' Eckrich stated.
"These renovations would not meet the extent of the improvements recommended in the needs assessment nor would they address all of the deficiencies of the existing building, but they could substantially improve the facilities at the Government Center.
The drawback would be that this type of redesign would necessitate the need for additional architectural services and related fees,'' Eckrich wrote.
To date, roughly $1.6 million has been spent on the renovation of City Hall and the new police facility.
Voters in August 2002 approved Proposition S, the extension of a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of a new police building, fund repairs at the Government Center and allow the continuation of the city's street repair and replacement program.
The half-cent, capital-improvements sales tax had been scheduled to end in 2008, but voter approval of Proposition S extended the sales tax until 2023.
The COPs issued in late 2002 to fund the project carry an average interest rate of 4.21 percent and will be retired over a 20-year period with revenue from the city's half-cent capital-improvement sales tax. The city's payments are roughly $730,000 per year.
Interest over the 20-year period will total roughly $4.8 million, bringing the total cost to $14.6 million.