Northwest NEWS

July 19, 1999

Front Page

Sorenson study favors new City Hall

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--The recent study of remodeling Sorenson school for Woodinville's new City Hall revealed that would cost as much as a new building and severely limit expansion options. The study was conducted by the project management team from The RISE Group and Lewis Architecture with City Manager Pete Rose and his staff.

   RISE and Lewis provided three options for a new city hall building, adjacent to the Sorenson property. Those options list total construction costs of $4.5 million for an economy "Developer Model" of 22,500 square feet, $5.25 million for an "Intermediate-size Civic Model" of 24,000 square feet, or $6.3 million for a "Full-size Civic Model" of 30,000 square feet.

   The Sorenson remodel was estimated at over $3.74 million for 24,000 square feet. That did not include replacing the current flat roof. It also did not include the approximately 10 percent per year construction cost increases. Councilmember Bob Miller concluded that 20 percent construction cost increases 2-3 years down the road would bring the remodel cost to $4.5 million, the same cost as a brand new Developer Model building.

   Miller and Rose agreed that neither keeping City Hall at the current location nor building the Developer Model would provide enough square footage to accomodate space requirements for current staff growth needs, as expressed by City staff during the recent planning interviews conducted by RISE and Lewis. Those needs would require some City departments to rent 1,235 square feet of local commercial office space for the three-year wait that a remodel would entail, said Miller. At the current retail rental average of $20 per square foot per year, that would cost the City $74,000.

   "A community center would have similar uses to school designs," said Bob Hathaway, RISE's City Hall Project Manager. "But the layout of the Sorenson building is not a good functional fit for civic buildings. You would spend the same amount of money for a building that doesn't fit your needs efficiently, especially needs for future expansion. Some of the supporting walls would become exterior walls, in dividing the gutted building to fit your staff's stated space needs. That could compromise the structural integrity. When you're done, you still have a school building design, which limits your options for expansion. And you would have to rent space elsewhere for some departments that don't require close adjacency, such as Parks & Recreation and the police department."

   RISE Vice-President Barry Quinn said the City might want to change the Sorenson roof design from a flat roof to a pitched roof, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. That would add some $1.5 million to remodel costs.

   "The Sorenson layout would limit your Communication Center options," said Lewis' Ross Jamieson.

   "The adjacency questions I had have been answered tonight," said councilmember Randy Ransom, who asked for the Sorenson remodel study last month. "It appears, from what we've heard of a remodel tonight, there could be some problems with it."

   Mayor Don Brocha summarized the study's findings, noting that the Full-size Civic Model, at 30,000 square feet, would give the City a 15-year expected use, while the Intermediate Civic Model, at 24,000 square feet, would require a 6,000-foot expansion in a few years.

   Quinn said the costs and materials' quality specifications would be the same for the Full-size as the Intermediate Models, with the square footage totals the only difference. Jamieson said that later expansion of the Intermediate Civic Model would not increase costs significantly more than initially building the Full-size Civic Model.

   Ransom asked City Finance Director Jim Katica if the City might come out ahead by building the full-size model, then leasing out the extra space until City staff expansion required it. Katica said that at $18-20 per square foot, the City could make up to $120,000 per year. Brocha asked councilmembers to make a decision on which model they favored before their July 19 meeting.