City of Aspen office projects totaling $48.1M approved
Aspen City Council on Monday signed off on a nearly $24.8 million contract with Shaw Construction to build a municipal government office building on Rio Grande Place that voters signed off on in November.
The entire project, which includes a new 37,500-square-foot building and the renovation of the adjacent Rio Grande building, is now at a guaranteed maximum price of $34.2 million, which includes almost $3 million in contingency funds, as well as previous design work and the demolition of the structure where the chamber of commerce was located.
An additional $13.9 million has been projected for the renovation of the existing City Hall, which is separate from the Rio Grande projects but part of the overall city offices plan.
The whole package stays within the estimated $46 million to $49 million for all of the work, which was given to voters when they were choosing between the Rio Grande location versus city offices on Hopkins Avenue.
Costs could go over if council is desirous of a “net zero” building, which would have zero net energy consumption.
Jack Wheeler, president of Concept One Group and the city’s owner’s representative on the project, said he and his team are working with environmental building officials and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency on what’s possible above Leed Gold certification.
“We are moving toward a better building,” he told council, adding that 85% of recommendations they’ve received so far already are incorporated in their current plans.
Interim City Manager Sara Ott said she will come before council this summer for decisions on net zero plans, plaza design and the building’s interior programming.
The renovations and additional office space are designed to provide adequate space for city employees to work and centralized locations for the public.
Currently, municipal employees are working in cramped office space in City Hall, or are spread throughout town in rented buildings that cost the local government more than $500,000 a year.
Councilman Bert Myrin, who campaigned for the Hopkins Avenue location, questioned Monday why the city can’t utilize its own buildings like the Old Power House and City Hall rather than renting space.
Ott countered that more space is desperately needed and she can’t justify moving departments around — not to mention that it’s inefficient.
“I’m happy to show you what space is available but we are very limited,” she said. “We just can’t do it and still provide reasonable office space.”
While most of the new office building is dedicated to work spaces, the top floor — which faces Galena Plaza — will have a healthy amount of meeting rooms.
Almost 1,800 square feet is slated as a “lecture hall” and a community room of 700 square feet.
Those are to replace the lost community room that once was in the second floor of the existing Rio Grande building, as well as the current Sister Cities room in the basement of City Hall, which will be eliminated to make way for a larger City Council chambers as part of the renovation.
Jeff Pendarvis, the city’s capital asset director, said the top floor meeting space could eventually be transformed into more offices based on predicted government growth in the next 10 or 15 years.
The Capital Asset Department and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority also will be housed on the Galena Plaza level of the new buildings.
The Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which relocated to the city-owned former power plant building off of North Mill Street, will move into the new city building and occupy 3,000 square feet on two levels.
The city also is carving out over 1,400 square feet for a restaurant where Taster’s Pizza is currently located and operating this summer.
The second floor will house the Environmental Health, Parking, Special Events, Transportation and IT departments when the new building is complete in two years.
The Engineering and Community Development departments will occupy the first floor.
Throughout all three floors and basement, there are numerous conference and collaboration rooms, as well as showers, locker rooms and storage space.
The majority of the work space will be locked off to the public with almost 40 doors accessed by a security access system. There also are 16 video cameras planned for around the building.
Excavation for the new building will occur this summer, with vertical construction scheduled to begin at the end of the year.
There is no timeline for the renovation of City Hall, which will continue to house the city clerk, city manager and city attorney’s offices, the Finance Department and utilities, among others.
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Tuesday is Election Day in city of Aspen. Make sure your ballot is received by 7 p.m. on March 2.