Petersburg Pilot -

Assembly approves municipal remodel designs


Illustration submitted by MRV Architects

This rendering depicts the northeast view of the $9.7 million proposed renovation to the municipal and police building.

The Petersburg Borough Assembly voted to move forward with its estimated $9.7 million municipal and police building renovation.

Corey Wall, with MRV Architects, outlined the design and cost last Friday so that Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht and Mayor Mark Jensen can pitch the project to legislative officials this week.

"We're asking you to make tough decisions in a very short period of time to meet with the legislative calendar," Giesbrecht said. "We've been talking about it (the renovation) for a couple of years without this level of formality and price tag. We need to be able to say this is the project we want to build and we need money, please help us out."

Wall, along with MRV and other engineering experts, have been working with borough staff since last summer to find out if the municipal building could be brought up to code through a renovation which would include the police station and municipal offices.

"The answer was yes although it was tight," Wall said. "We wanted this to be an uncompromised police station. We didn't want to cram this into an existing building simply because the borough owned it if it wasn't going to function as well as a new standalone facility would."

Wall said the rooms are same size and have same functions as they would have in a stand-alone facility.

Current designs include features such as an enclosed garage for police vehicles, a front entry and canopy, an expanded north parking lot, metal siding, prefabricated detention cells with electronic surveillance and controls, and better insulation.

"We're going to enclose the whole thing in, essentially, an igloo cooler," Wall said. "Four inches of rigid foam insulation over the entire building to increase thermal performance."

Wall said MRV specializes in "like new" remodeling.

"The finishes, all the piping, all the wiring pretty much everything you can see is going to be completely like new including the outside envelope."

The municipal building was originally constructed in 1958 and hasn't been substantially renovated since then.

The slab of concrete in the dispatch room has dipped below ground level but the overall structural integrity of the building is intact.

Police Chief Kelly Swihart has reviewed the design and said, although anything would be better than the current state of affairs, he's happy with the design plans.

"I think it's a great concept," Swihart said. "The staff's reviewed it, everyone seems pretty happy with it."

Remodeling the entire municipal building will require a fair amount of shuffling of furnishings, equipment and people.

The building will be completed in two phases and municipal staff will need to rent a space in town during part of the construction, while police staff move within the existing structure.

Wall said a bid for the project should be awarded by March 2015 and construction should be complete by August 2016.

The construction cost for the project is $7.1 million, the same price as cost estimates of a stand-alone police station conducted last spring.

The construction costs of the municipal remodel are around $423 per square foot-around $120 per square foot less than what it would cost if a brand new police station was constructed.

Illustration submitted by MRV Architects

This rendering depicts the Southeast exterior.

However the entire project, including non-construction costs, is around $700,000 more than a stand-alone facility due in part to the additional work of remodeling the municipal offices. Contingency and design fees, a police communications system, furnishings and fixtures and an on-site construction representative make up the bulk of the project costs.

"We don't have the money for the full construction," Giesbrecht said. "We do have plenty of money to continue pushing forward on the design process, basically moving the project to shovel ready status so when construction money's available we're ready to move."

Giesbrecht and Jensen return to Petersburg from Juneau Feb. 21.

"There's a tight budget up there this year so I guess we'll see what happens," Jensen said.

The assembly unanimously voted to move forward with the project.


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