Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
Posted: 10-13-2017, 12:35 p.m.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) – City staff is proceeding with plans to perform a $38 million renovation and modernization of the 128-year-old old City Hall Building, with construction expected to begin in late summer 2018.
During a presentation on the status of the historic four-story structure, Mike Frisbie, the Transportation and Capital Improvements Department director, explained that maintenance staff has been unable to keep up with needed repairs due to the building’s antiquity.
The roof leaks. The plumbing system is over 50 years old and sewage backs up. The facade is crumbling. The elevators date to the 1940s. In general, Frisbie made the case that the building is falling apart and needs to be vacated in order to make major repairs and renovations.
Currently, City Council hold regular session and B Session in the Municipal Plaza Building that faces the Main Plaza square at Commerce Street and North Main Avenue. However, the district councilmembers and staff have their offices in the old City Hall building. Frisbie’s recommendation was that they temporarily relocate to the Frost Tower that the city purchased from Frost Bank.
Aside from the hazards of occupying a building under construction, Frisbie said there is asbestos in the building that would have to be removed. It would be unsafe for staff and visitors.
After the renovation, district city councilmembers would be allotted the top two floors of the building. Illustration courtesy of City of San Antonio.
The estimated price tag breaks down to $34.6 million for new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, a new HVAC system, new elevators, improved fire suppression system, exterior masonry repair, new and refurbished exterior windows and entrances, and exterior drainage improvements.
Another $3.4 million would be dedicated to a new ADA accessible entrance to the building. Earlier this year, the city conducted a design contest for a new entrance system and Beaty Palmer Architects came up with the winning design. The design involves raising the earth from where the block meets Flores Street at the corners and constructing two ramps that approach the building diagonally.
Frisbie recommended the use of a Design-Build delivery method that would involved a two-step (RFQ/RFP) solicitation process. The selection of a Design-Build team would be conducted between now and February.
City Council would vote on the approval of the contract in April and designs would commence that same month. From April to June 2018, the staff and Design-Build team would get review and approval of their plans from the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission and the Texas Historical Commission.
The site plan by Beaty Palmer Architects for the front lawn shows an elevated lawn at the corners that would accommodate two ramps.
Staff would relocate in August-September and construction would begin in September, beginning with limited demolition and abatement. The project is scheduled to be substantially complete by November 2019, with staff being allowed to move back in around December 2019 to January 2020.
City councilmembers and staff would return to modern office quarters with soundproof glass walls that provide more efficient use of space. Occupants would also have more room because Frisbie said staffing would be reduced from the current 143-personnel to 91.
The project would be paid with an issuance of Certificates of Obligation in summer 2018.
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.