Cedar Park: Council Tees Up Bond Issue for New Library, Seeks Architect
Feature Illustrations: Concept renderings of the Bell Development District, including the circular park (images on right) where the new library would be located. Courtesy: City of Cedar Park.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Cedar Park (Williamson County) — City Council has initiated actions this month on the construction of a new library, including directing staff to schedule a bond issue to finance the project and to hire an architect for its design.
On July 9, the council passed several ordinances whose purpose is to use the remaining bond capacity from a $96.7 million bond package approved by voters in 2015. The General Obligation Bonds, Series 2020, are divided in three parts as follows:
From Proposition 1: $10,305,000 for the construction of roadways, utility relocation, sidewalks and other traffic right-of-way improvements.
From Proposition 3: $18,500,000 for the construction and/or renovation of library facilities.
From Proposition 4: $2,527,000 for the acquisition of land and/or improvements and/or new construction of parks and recreational facilities.
The July 9 action was council’s response to a Feb. 27 staff presentation on the financing of several capital improvement projects. In that discussion, staff said $19,155,000 would be needed, using certificates of obligation. That sum was based on a $10 million budget to address inflationary costs related to construction of a new library, and $9,155,000 to finance high priority drainage projects identified in the city’s Storm Water Master Plan.
The new library is to include a parking garage, and these facilities are a major part of the city’s commitment to private investors that are planning the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project. The city has an agreement with RedLeaf Properties LLC of Austin to revitalize the Bell Boulevard District between Buttercup Creek Boulevard/Brushy Creek Road and Park Street, as reported in this VBX March 3 article, and listed in VBX Project ID 2020-1CEC.
The 40-acre Bell Development District, outlined with red border, would have a public library to the south in one of the blue tracts. Courtesy: City of Cedar Park.
RFQ for Architectural Services:
Then on July 17, Cedar Park’s Purchasing Department issued the Request for Qualifications for Architectural Services for the new Cedar Park public library. Responses are due Aug. 14.
This RFQ discusses the need for a new multi-story library to be located within the 40-acre Bell District, “a public-private redevelopment project between the City of Cedar Park and RedLeaf Properties LLC.”
The development will include coordination with the city’s Construction Manager at-Risk, an company that will be selected separately. Statements of Qualifications from the responding architectural firms are to include their experience with similarly sized municipal library designs and construction, as well as their experience with CMAR delivery methods.
The library is slated to be located in the southern portion of the Bell District development, as a key element of the social hub. The social hub will be an area with a community green nestled within a majestic grove of heritage trees and the nearby Cluck Creek. Restaurants, shops, and other pedestrian friendly uses will line the open space, ensuring its activation throughout the day and evening.
Adjacent to the library will be a 15-acre City park, and several blocks of urban-style mixed-use development that is pedestrian oriented and relies upon structured parking rather than surface lots. The structured parking required for the library will be designed and constructed as part of the Bell District but is not included in the scope of the Library Project.
The selected architectural/engineering firm will be expected to design a library that incorporates the design components described and discussed in the guiding principles and Bell Boulevard Design Book.
The 2015 Library Master Plan concluded that the existing 25,500-square-foot library could not serve the community’s needs. Rather than establishing a branch system, a new single location facility with additional space was recommended.
A construction budget of $22 million has been allocated for a new multi-story library of approximately 40,000 square feet.
“The library should provide inviting spaces for kids, teens, tweens, adults, seniors, families, students, retired people, and business people, and include reading nooks, quiet individual workspaces, and collaborative workspaces,” the RFQ states.
“Additionally, the library should include innovative technology, a variety of seating options, diverse lighting levels, different sound levels, indoor spaces, outdoor spaces, and accessibility for all users. Meeting and programming space should also be available for both large and small meetings with easy-to-use technology and many options for flexible use.”
City Council will consider the Selection Committee’s recommended choice in October, and approval of a contract is expected to take place by mid-December.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.