City Hall needs more space for its employees and, in response, City Council will consider moving forward with two major projects on Tuesday.
One of the projects would be a brand new building, wedged between City Hall and the public safety building that would alleviate the need to spend public tax dollars on rented spaces for city employees.
The 50,000-square-foot City Services Building would cost between $47.5 million and $56.4 million.
City officials estimate that they will spend $2 million this fiscal year on rental fees for 43,500 square feet of private office space housing 200 employees. By 2019, when the building could be complete, city officials estimate they’ll be saving $2.5 million annually on rent.
Given that they expect rents to rise at a rate of 4 percent per year, city officials expect that they’d break even on the most expensive of the three building options (the one they’re recommending) by 2034.
They’re recommending the most expensive option because it comes with a Living Building Certification (LBC) – more environmentally sound than the current LEED certifications. The LBC “would increase operational savings through Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Water requirements,” city officials said.
The project is still a long way from approval. If council picks a direction on Tuesday, city officials will come back with a “guaranteed maximum price for design” in the spring. In 2016, they’d come back for permission to issue lease revenue bonds and, if all goes smoothly, construction would start in 2017.
When City Hall took ownership of the 14.7-acre City Yards property on Michigan Avenue near 24th Street in the 1940s, officialsnever expected it to become such an important space for city operations.
Currently, it houses facilities maintenance, custodial services, street maintenance, fleet maintenance, traffic operations, resource recovery and recycling, water and wastewater operations, hazardous waste storage and a Fire Department training area.
“City Yards operates seven days a week and currently houses more functions and employees than it was designed to accommodate,” city officials said in a report to council.
Since 1996, council has been trying to find a way to address the space issue.
On Tuesday, council will consider moving forward with a 15-phase plan that, when all is said and done, could cost over $115 million.
Early phases would include clearing the site, demolishing three building and constructing three new ones. Temporary buildings would be constructed to house the ousted workers. A new fuel island, canopy, and fuel farm would be built.
Later phases would include the construction of half a dozen new buildings and a 350-car parking garage. Notably, city officials said in a report to council that the garage could accommodate shared parking during off-peak hours (weekends and evenings) for visitors to the Bergamot Station Art Center.
As City Hall considers redevelopment of the nationally renowned art center, gallerists and residents have expressed concern that there won’t be enough parking spaces on-site.
The City Yards project, too, is still a long way out. If all goes as planned, council will give final authorization for early phases of the project next year and construction could begin in 2017.