Aspen city offices grow more expensive with $201K change order

It will cost the city of Aspen another $201,000 in change orders to add another layer of public outreach onto its plans to build a new municipal office building between Rio Grande Park and Galena Plaza.

Aspen City Council on Monday approved a four-month public outreach effort around the future design of Galena Plaza, and how it will connect the popular John Denver Sanctuary, the Roaring Fork River and Rio Grande Park to town.

In the middle of those popular destinations will be the city’s new 37,500-square-foot office building, which some residents are concerned will serve as a wall between the park and downtown.

That is why the city is extending its planning effort beyond what has been envisioned for the past few years and what voters approved last fall.

“This is a result of citizens requesting City Council have more input in the design and functioning of that gateway between the John Denver Sanctuary,” Councilman Ward Hauenstein said. “This is an additional $200,000 of funds at the direct request of citizens and concerned citizens.”

And if more than what was approved from previous council is added to the Galena Plaza design from the upcoming process, the cost will be added to the $48 million project, which has a payback of $60 million with certificate of participation bonds.

The public engagement effort requires additional work by Charles Cunniffe Architects, Design Workshop, PR Studio and Concept One Group, along with the city’s parks and asset departments.

They’ll solicit public input from a cross section of the community on what enhancements and programming are possible in Galena Plaza.

Council on Monday directed the team to continue working on three conceptual design alternatives for the plaza, and the connection from Main Street to the John Denver Sanctuary.

That will occur in three public open houses at two different times, totaling six gatherings.

The end result will be schematic design for the plaza that council is expected to decide on next year.

Council on Monday approved the change order of just over $201,000, with the bulk going to Design Workshop for $89,500; Charles Cunniffe Architects for $48,500; $20,000 for Concept One Group; and PR Studio for $9,595.

It is the 12th change order for Charles Cunniffe on the project, which began in earnest in 2015.

The total amount in the change order includes contingency funds in case more money is needed as the process unfolds.

“The contingency is not to be spent unless it’s warranted,” said Jeff Pendarvis, the city’s capital asset director. “We would rather ask for the money up front rather than come back for you in the middle of the process.”