The City Council tonight will consider hiring a firm to demolish this building on Fifth Street, formerly the interim Main Library. The council may turn the property into a parking lot to relieve overcrowding at Downtown structures. (photo by Rachel Dardashti)

<i>Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the city’s expenditures appearing on upcoming Santa Monica City Council consent agendas. Consent agenda items are routinely passed by the City Council with little or no discussion from elected officials or the public. However, many of the items have been part of public discussion in the past.</i>

CITY HALL — The one-time location of the Santa Monica Public Library could soon be reduced from a former house of books to pile of rubble.

City officials are looking to demolish the long dormant and deteriorating building at 1324 Fifth St. to create a temporary surface parking lot in its place, alleviating the space crunch in Downtown.

The City Council is expected to consider the proposal tonight as part of its consent calendar, which also includes a roughly $931,000 spending package.

Its approval will allow city staff to begin seeking bids to take down a structure that served as the interim library from March 2003 to December 2005 while a new facility was being constructed just around the corner. The temporary facility has remained vacant since.

Demolition was just one of several options that city officials considered, including leasing spaces for commercial use but ultimately nixing the idea after concluding it would not be cost effective.

Not only would rehabilitation cost an estimated $400,000 — covering carpeting, flooring, painting and removing mold — but maintenance would also add on another $100,000 a year, all for a piece of property that could be needed for new construction within five years, a city staff report stated, adding that City Hall would not recoup the investment for more than four years.

Demolition and resurfacing is estimated to cost $400,000.

Approximately 24 parking spaces will result from the building’s demolition, adding to the existing 108 spots available in the adjacent city-owned lot on the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, which operates as a temporary skating rink during the winter.

The lot could also soften the impact from the loss of spaces at Parking Structures 1, 3, and 6 on Second and Fourth streets when they undergo reconstruction starting in 2011.

City Hall owns several buildings along the 1300 block of Fifth Street and have recently moved forward with purchasing a two-story commercial structure at 1334, giving it a cumulative 67,500 square feet in the area. That building, which currently houses a florist and communications firm, could be reconstructed into a parking structure.

The council will also be asked to increase an existing contract with KPFF Consulting Engineers by more than $50,000. The firm is providing design services for an upgrade project at Parking Structure 2.

KPFF has been called upon to provide more services because of unforeseen conditions related to the existing building materials.

New and improved bus stops

Along the many changes the Big Blue Bus is expected to undergo the next several years, including the opening of a state-of-the-art facility, is a series of revamped transit shelters.

Upon receiving a $659,890 contract with City Hall, Culver City-based Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects will be responsible for developing three unique designs for bus stops in the city, designing waiting areas that seek to improve the public’s image of public transit travel, promote the BBB brand, and provide real-time arrival information.

“Bus stop amenities that easily identify transit entry points, offer customer comforts, provide transit information and improve the cityscape are important elements of a successful transit system,” a staff report stated.

The consultant is expected to investigate existing bus stops that have both high and medium volume usage, and provide different designs for bus shelters depending on their traffic levels.

Stops that have the highest volumes will receive a full shelter that will include everything from a no-smoking sign to real-time bus travel information, the latter of which would lack in an area with a lower traffic number. Locations that are under consideration to receive a full shelter include the stop at Fourth Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.

City Hall is also expected to sign a one-year, $145,488 contract with Project Partners to provide inspection services for the BBB facility expansion project on Colorado Avenue.

The consultant will be responsible for monitoring the progress of construction, scheduling inspections and making sure that work is being performed according to plans.

Establishing fee rates for beach house

With about a month left before the Annenberg Community Beach House opens, city staff is ready to set the price to use the newest public facility.

After hearing concerns from residents about the proposed fees during a workshop late last year, City Hall has eliminated a $5 reservation fee that would have been required to save a spot at the pool. A “Dollar Days” program that would allow access for $1 during certain hours has also been added since the public meeting.

Parking is estimated to cost $10 while the one-day pool pass will cost adults $10, seniors $5, and children $4. A family pass, which covers two adults and two children, will run $24.

The beachside property was once the site of a 110-room mansion where silent film star Marion Davies lived and has been featured on television numerous times, including Beverly Hills 90210.

HVAC project on hold

Falling short of construction funding to complete the project, officials are planning on postponing the replacement of the HVAC (heating and ventillation/air conditiong) system at City Hall.

Its funding will instead be used to enhance the City Hall seismic retrofit construction budget.

The council will be asked to add more than $76,300 to a contract with Black and Veatch, which in addition to the seismic retrofit project had also been working on the HVAC replacement, providing design services.

City Hall had anticipated saving money by moving forward with both projects at the same time but realized after completion of the HVAC system design that the combined undertakings would exceed original estimates.

Moving the funds would allow more retrofitting and help the project meet Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements, the staff report stated.


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