City of Salem officials want to spend at least $70 million (could easily be $90 million) on a Civic Center renovation and new police department building just north of the current headquarters.
See my previous post, "Citizens suggest better ways to renovate Salem's Civic Center."
It sure looks like the cost to taxpayers could be $40 million less. This is the rough, but informed, conclusion of Gene Pfeifer. He's got 45 years of design/build experience and was instrumental in finding a lower cost solution to fixing Salem's Courthouse Square.
Below is an email message that Gene sent to Geoffrey James, a Salem architect who kicked off the Salem Community Vision effort. Give them a Facebook like. Gene said it would be OK for me to share the message. I made a few minor stylistic edits.
It will be governmental malpractice if the City Manager, Mayor, City Councillors, and Department Heads don't attend seriously to what Pfeifer, James, and others are saying: much less expensive alternatives to the City's current plan -- which was developed quite secretly with very little community involvement -- are feasible.
I'll add another consideration.
Salem has lots of unmet needs. Yes, retrofitting the Civic Center to withstand an earthquake should be a top priority. But this project should be done as efficiently as possible, without needlessly sucking up taxpayer money that could go for other important priorities.
Here's Gene's message:
Geoff- This morning I ran some rough numbers comparing the path fostered by Mark Foster, one of the architects on the current Civic Center project, versus your path of conservation and a better police facility location.
His interrupted discussion at the Salem Community Vision meeting last night reminded me of the Courthouse Square Technical Committee debates during your subcommittee meetings when S.E.R.A Architects were ushered in and attempted to sabotage the Committee’s economical “micro” solutions path versus S.E.R.A’s “macro” solutions.
As you recall, they wanted to literally tear apart all the assemblies and put it back together. We said to just fix what needs to be fixed. In this case, again, the designers want to tear down an enormous amount of valuable equity structure and assemblies, rather than fix them. In a conservation, sustainable, and fiscally responsible motion, you want to fix the existing facilities, save the Mirror Pond, save the Peace Plaza, and have the police facilities located in a more functional, safer location.
The problem you had last night was not having cost factors representing your whole vision. All Mr. Foster had to do was state that your $17 million versus their $70 million was unrealistic. On the surface he was correct. Do not let them win a numbers game. In my opinion, their cost factors will be more like a cost outcome of $90 million, and your conservative, truly sustainable, and overall safer approach is under $50 million.
These comments are relatively easy for me to conclude. As I recall, all the building assembly square footage of the Courthouse Square were about 275,000 sq ft. That now is being remediated with “micro” solutions, not counting any new floor plan changes, for a maximum cost of about $23 million. I remind everyone this that includes all the architect and engineering costs.
Note, that is $23 million versus the approximate $55 million the Portland architect suggested.
So you want to fix the seismic and unmitigated deferred maintenance issues of the parking structures, north and south; the library; the main civic center offices; the atrium; and the council chambers. This includes a remodeled floor plan of the council chambers. We were asked last night what it would cost to remediate all the seismic conditions of the existing Civic Center.
My response was, “About $25 million.” Referencing what all is being consummated in the Courthouse Square, this is reasonable to cover the items in this paragraph.
To recap, your “micro” solutions for the Civic Center are in a reasonable budget of $25 million, and, using an analysis of the Eugene Police facilities, remodeled or even new, in a less restricted and safer location, including the land, can be less than $20 million. These projected budgets are $45 million; or, easily fit into a safety net budget of $50 million. The rough numbers ran this morning easily conclude that the safety net budget for the City’s current “macro” solution now being proposed by others will easily end up at $90 million.
In conclusion, your path leads to retaining valuable equity assets the City now enjoys, and there is potential savings for the owners, the taxpayers, of $40 million, or more.
Please keep up your well intended work.