PLATTE CITY’S NEW CITY HALL COULD BE READY IN LATE JULY
Much progress is being made–though perhaps not as quickly as contractors would like–on the new structure that will serve as City Hall for Platte City.
The new City Hall will also house the Platte City Police Department. It is going up at 224-228 Marshall Road.
It is a $7.2 million project for the city and its taxpayers. It is being funded with $3.2 million in new general obligation bonds that were approved by city voters in 2018, and the remainder with city fund balances, primarily from the capital improvement fund and general fund reserves.
DJ Gehrt, city administrator, says the targeted completion date–which has been somewhat of a moving target during the construction period for a variety of reasons– is now late July.
Gehrt, still heading up the project for the city as he heads to his June 30 retirement date, won’t still be on staff for the opening. He’ll step away at his retirement date and his replacement, current assistant/interim city administrator Marji Gehr, will take over the reins.
Total size of the new facility is 16,000 sq. ft., with 9,800 sq. ft. on the main floor and 6,200 on the lower level. It will have a projected life span of 60-75 years.
All public spaces are on the main floor, Gehrt says.
Work on the building’s exterior is complete with the exception of the front entrance canopy.
“The remaining exterior work is to complete the site work, including a curb and asphalt entrance drive, final landscape grading, landscape installation, exterior light poles, security cameras, parking lot gates and asphalt topcoat and striping for drive and parking areas,” Gehrt explained this week.
Final grading and landscaping includes installing the concrete entry plaza and ADA ramp, as well as front raised landscape planters, flagpoles and flag plaza.
It’s the interior work that has proceeded slowly in recent weeks, in large part to a contractors’ lack of workers.
“Interior work is dependent upon completing tape and mud at the main level. All drywall is complete and tape/mud is complete on the lower level. After the tape/mud is completed, the painting, flooring, casework and furniture will go in fairly quickly,” Gehrt told The Landmark.
The new City Hall is being designed to provide one-stop customer service in the front lobby for all city functions, including police, public works, finance department, cemetery administration, parks and recreation, building permits/development, etc. The room that will house board meetings is also on the main floor.
“The board chambers include a separate closed session conference room that will allow the public to remain in the board chambers in the event of a closed session,” Gehrt says. “In the current City Hall, the public has to leave the board room for a closed session.”
The new building also includes a conference room off of the board chambers that is also built as a certified storm shelter large enough to hold anyone attending a board meeting, in the event of a storm situation.
Also included is space for sufficient police locker rooms and administrative spaces to allow the department to grow. Currently, there are 12 sworn officers in the Platte City Police Department. The space in the new building is constructed to allow room for an eventual department size of 24 officers, Gehrt said.
In addition to space for more police officers, the administrative section of the building includes space for up to four additional administrative employees if eventually needed, and 800 square feet of unfinished storage/multi-purpose space on the lower level. Additional space for evidence processing, packing and secure storage in the police department is featured. The main city archives are located in a sprinkled, fire-resistant room.
“This will allow the city to consolidate all of its remaining paper archives from both the current City Hall and an off-site storage facility. This consolidation will make it easier for the city to complete its ongoing program of scanning paper records to digital archives,” Gehrt remarked.
The new building also includes an emergency generator, a feature missing from the current City Hall and from the current police station.
Planning for the potential addition of electric city-owned vehicles somewhere down the line, the building’s electrical system and generator size, switchgear and electrical panels are large enough to support the future installation of up to five Tier 3 fast electric vehicle charging stations and eight Tier 1 low speed electric vehicle charging stations, Gehrt said.
He said conduit for the charging stations–which will be located on the back side of the building–has also been installed to prevent the need to tear up the parking lot when the future charging stations are added.
THE BACK STORY
The planning for a new City Hall/police department building has been in the works since the police department had to move out of the Civic Center, located at 308 Zed Martin Street just south of Hwy. 92, in 2013 due to dry rot of the floor supports in the east wing of the building.
The police department has been operating from a rented building on Main Street with about 1,800 square feet of space since mid 2013.
In 2019, the city evaluated six potential building locations (all north of Hwy. 92 and west of Marshall Road, Gehrt says) for the new facility. The evaluation resulted in three locations as clear preferences and three locations that were less suitable. The board made a policy decision that it would not use its condemnation authority to acquire property for this project and the city would have to reach a mutually agreeable purchase agreement with the property owners. The city was unable to reach a satisfactory purchase agreement on two of the preferred properties.
In December 2020, the city approved an agreement to purchase three parcels totaling 4.2 acres, including two existing buildings, at 224/228 Marshall Road for a cash outlay of $700,000.
The property included a 6,100 sq ft former medical office that was demolished to make room for the new City Hall/police station and a 4,400 sq ft. building that has four small office suites. The 4,400 sq. ft. building still stands, next to Marshall Road.
The city’s original plan for the property was to construct a 14,000 sq ft building for the City Hall and police department. The building size provided enough space for the police department and administrative staff to grow as the city population increases over the next 50 years.
The original plan for the site intended to renovate the existing 4,400 sq. ft. building to place the city council chambers on one floor and recreation equipment storage on the bottom floor. However, early on in the design phase it was found that the costs to renovate the existing building would be at least 70% of the cost of building new space, because it was necessary to construct new load bearing walls/columns in order to consolidate the two office spaces on the main floor into a single city council chambers, Gehrt said.
Because the cost for renovation was such a high percentage of new construction cost estimates, the city council chambers were added to the City Hall/police department building.
The decision to include the council chambers in the new building increased the building size to approximately 16,000 sq. ft. This change resulted in updating the construction cost in July 2021 from the original 2018 estimate of $3.2 million to a new estimate of $4.4 million (16,000 sq. ft. at $275 per sq. ft). At that point (July 2021), the total project cost estimate was $5,543,000. Although slightly higher than the original 2018 estimate of $5.2 million it was not unexpected given the three years that had passed.
Gehrt said the major change in the project cost to reach the final cost of approximately $7.2 million cost was the result of the construction bids. The call for bids was posted in November 2021. The city received six construction bids, of which Royal Construction was the low bid at $5,904,000. This bid was based on $370 per square feet, or nearly $100 per square foot more than the 2018 cost estimate.
According to Gehrt, the city was able to provide the additional project funds from its existing fund balances because it had been gradually increasing those balances over the past 10 years knowing that there would be a need for major capital improvements in city buildings, parks and east side development.
Gehrt said although all major operating funds have a share of the City Hall/police department building, the majority of the project’s $4 million in pay-as-you-go funding is from the city’s capital improvement fund (CIP) balance and from the general fund balance.
The city administrator–who came to Platte City in 2011–said the city’s financial reserves were sufficient that the general fund will still have over 150% of annual expenditures in fund balance and the CIP fund will still have over 100% of annual revenue in its fund balance.
Gehrt explained that the city had built up enough financial flexibility that the increased “pay as you go amount” was available in the fund balances.