Portland architect estimates cost of City Hall remodel at $1.1 million

Sean C. Morgan

The city may borrow money to close a $700,000 gap in funding to remodel its new City Hall, and officials are planning to obtain construction documents.

Scott Edwards Architecture of Portland has estimated the cost at $1.1 million. City Manager Ray Towry told the City Council that the architect feels “that’s a high number” during the council’s regular meeting on Oct. 10.

That estimate used figures based in the Portland area, Towry said.

The city has $304,000 in its Building Reserve Fund with another $80,000 budgeted for transfer from the General Fund, leaving an apparent funding gap of more than $700,000.

To continue moving forward, the city needs to have the architect create construction documents, Towry said. That will give officials a better estimate on cost as the city seeks funding.

There will be a gap of some kind, but it won’t be as high as the $700,000 the initial architect estimate suggests, Towry said, .

Finance Director Pat Gray is working on ways to close the gap, Towry said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a direct loan and grant program for community facilities, Gray said, and the city has asked for a $50,000 loan for the HVAC system.

For discussion purposes, the USDA provided an estimate for a loan. At 3.5-percent interest, a $1 million loan would cost $70,370 per year on a 20-year term. A 30-year loan would cost $54,380 per year, and a 40-year loan would cost $46,830 per year.

The payments are smaller than the $80,000 that the city transfers annually to its Building Reserve Fund, Gray said.

To help pay for the remodeling, the city has listed for sale 1730 9th Ave., the former site of the Public Works maintenance yard, offices and Water Treatment Plant. The property is listed for $349,000.

The next step will be for the council to approve a contract for construction documents, Towry said. After that, contractors will bid on the project.

Councilor Dave Trask asked whether the city has estimates for doing part of the work with its own staff, such as the HVAC system or sheet rock.

Once the city receives construction documents, it will know the cost for each part of the construction, Towry said. “If we want to do it in phases, then we can work that out with the contractor.”

Councilors questioned some of the costs included in the architect estimate. Councilor Lisa Gourley pointed out that it’s a federal building that is already handicap-accessible, yet the architect estimate includes a ramp.

In other business, the council:

– Ranked three candidates for City Council who had tied among seven candidates to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Ryan Underwood.

Each councilor had ranked all seven candidates after conducting interviews on Oct. 4.

The top three candidates were Robert Briana, Heather Metcalf and Henry Blomberg.

The remaining candidates were Theresa Howard, W. Casebier, Derek Dix and Edith Wilcox.

The council will consider appointing a new councilor during its regular meeting on Oct. 24 after the results of its rankings are tabulated.

– Adopted revisions to the chronic nuisance property ordinance.

– Adopted an ordinance reorganizing committees, combining the Tree Commission and Parks Board and the Public Safety and Traffic Safety committees. The new committees are called the Park and Tree Committee and the Public and Traffic Safety Committee.