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Committee works out parking garage details

August 05, 2014 | 03:45 PM
No final project cost figures were set at the end of the third meeting of the ad hoc parking garage committee on July 31, leading to some expressions of frustration by some members.

According to the city website, another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

The committee will need to iron out a “not to exceed” project cost figure for the parking structure by then.

Because the parking structure project will cost more than $1.01 million, by city ordinance it must be approved by referendum, regardless of how the project is financed.

Near the end of the July 31 meeting, Alderwoman Sarah Hill, a committee member, said that the city attorney would have just four working days to draft the wording for the referendum and submit it to the county clerk’s office on Aug. 7.

“We have a week to get the wording on the referendum right,” Hill said. ‘We need an exceptionally well-written referendum question in four days.”

Although the final deadline for the referendum wording is Aug. 12, the county clerk suggests that referendum questions be submitted in advance to give the clerk’s office time to review the wording and for the city to make corrections if necessary.

The referendum question is to be on the November ballot.

Project cost needed

Alderman Bob Kordus, also a committee member, said in talking to staff, the referendum question should indicate the minimum number of parking spaces and the minimum amount of square feet in the building, with a “not to exceed” project cost.

Project cost includes cost of construction, fees for engineers and architects, and fees for contingencies that may arise due to unforeseen circumstances.

Steve Roloff, architect with the consulting engineering firm of Arnold & O’Sheridan, Brookfield, estimated the construction cost of the building at between $4.8 million to $5.8 million, or roughly $14,000 to $16,000 per parking stall.

The city will not borrow to build the parking structure. The money is to come out of the city’s Tax Increment Finance district budget.

The city has $6.8 million in its TIF fund right now, Hill said.

But the magic number for the total project seems to have settled in at $7 million, Roloff said.

And that seems to be the amount the committee is determined not to exceed.

According to Roloff at the start of construction, those contingencies and fees run about 20 percent of the cost of construction, although by the end of construction, they are usually less.

Meanwhile, there was a recitation of problems.

Switchgear box, setbacks

Among some of the sticking points still to be ironed out:

• Surveys of the site were delivered to Roloff a week and a half earlier.

• Meanwhile, Roloff has yet to see the report on the soil borings done by the city.

• A power company switchgear box, which requires a 10-foot clearance for proper operation, is on the south side of the proposed site. The box contains electrical disconnect switches, fuses and circuit breakers used to control and protect electrical equipment. It would cost $150,000 to move the box.

Some study is still needed to indicate who would pay for moving the box, Roloff said.

Roloff said there is no survey showing that the switchgear box has an easement.

If there is no easement, the city can demand that it be moved, without cost to the city, said John Button, a committee member and a former city alderman. “If they don’ t have an easement, I don’t know why we can’t tell them to move it,” he said.

• The city’s commercial use zoning allows building from lot line to lot line, but also requires a 10-foot rear area set back.

• Near the switchgear box is another equipment box owned by the telephone company. Roloff said AT&T had not gotten back to him about what the box is for and whether it can be moved.

• In order to build the parking garage from lot line to lot line, the city will have to go to its own zoning board of appeals and request a variance.

Loss of the 10 feet in the back would mean the loss of at least 30 spaces in the structure, Roloff said.

Because the city won’t be able to get its petition before the zoning board of appeals before the wording on the referendum is completed, Roloff has had to come up with more than one preferred plan for the parking structure layout.

More details

Other sticking points:

• City ordinance requires sprinklers, adding $200,000 to the project, said Roloff. They are not required under state code.

“I’ve never done sprinklers in an open parking structure,” Roloff said.

• The fire department also wanted a gurney-accessible elevator, but that’s not required by code, said Roloff.

Roloff said he hopes to negotiate with the Lake Geneva Fire Department officials to see if he can trade off the sprinklers for stand pipes, which would be less expensive.

This is something new for the fire department, said former Mayor Spyro Condos, also a committee member.

“It’s a parking structure. I don’t think they’ve approved one in this city before,” he said.

• Police want surveillance cameras.

Kordus said he was concerned that cameras would make the city liable if something happened in the garage and police were unable to respond quickly.

However, Button argued that the cameras would be able to record all events within their range. “People would know they’re on camera,” he said.

At the July 24 committee, the members reviewed a number of alternatives presented by Roloff, and settled on option F as the best for the site.

If the four-level parking structure fills the site, at 818 Geneva St., about 170 feet by 165 feet, it will provide parking for 328 vehicles, including handicapped spaces. This option is called F.

Another version, F.1, has a slightly smaller footprint (165-by-164 feet) to accommodate the switchgear box.

That version would allow for 312 to 316 parking spaces, including handicapped-accessible parking.

The smallest option, called FS, respects the 10- foot rear yard setback to the south, with a 10-to-12 foot setback. That would provide spaces for 279 vehicles, including those required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Zero setback preferred

Hill pointed out that the parking garage site, which is a city-owned parking lot, has 88 spaces. At 270 parking stalls, the city gains less than 200 new parking spaces, she said.

Kordus said he would prefer the largest structure to provide the city with the maximum number of parking stalls.

“We want to prepare for a zero setback,” said Kordus.

What is known is the committee wants the building built at the site, also called cast-on-site, rather than prefabricated and then assembled on site.

Building on site has two disadvantages, first construction must be during late spring to early fall, which means the 88 parking spaces at the site may well be out of commission during the city’s prime tourist period.

If the city decides to build in the off season, the concrete may have to be heated to properly cure.

Cost of heating the site would add about $25,000 to the project cost, Roloff said.

The advantages are that the cast-on-site building maintenance costs will be less and its structural supports will be less noticeable that those used in a precast building.

Lake Geneva architect Ken Etten of McCormack + Etten, was engaged by Arnold & O’Sheridan to design the exterior of the parking garage.

The four-level structure will be built with its first level 5 feet below grade.

Etten said he wanted to keep the parking garage’s appearance with that of a three-story building that blends in with the traditional brick facades of the downtown business district.

The façade treatment would be primarily on the north side facing Geneva Street, although the treatment will “wrap around” the edges to the east and west.

To keep costs down, the garage will look more “functional” on the east and west sides, with some façade work on the south side, facing the alley.

Black mesh will be used to create the illusion that the openings are windows, he said.

Can’t be ‘generic’

Members of the committee said that the building should not look “generic,” but appear to be the facades of several buildings side by side.

Condos asked that the two towers visible on the Geneva Street side should have a roof element that echoes the roof of the Riviera.

Hill said she would prefer to see something that varied the heights of the structure from east to west.

Tara Trent, a citizen member of the committee, said she wanted to see the façade to be more “dimensional,” instead of a flat face.

Condos said appearance will be an important part in getting the project past referendum.

“Part of what sells it is what it looks like,” Condos sad.

Roloff said the ideas were good, but there may be some physical limitations to the building materials used.

He suggested that the city stick to precast concrete for the façade for ease of maintenance.

Etten estimated it would cost $200,000 to do the special façade treatments.

“If we can eliminate the sprinkler system, that’s your $200,000,” Condos said.

Etten said the committee is also considering a sailboat logo for the west side of the building which would be either cast or etched into the concrete side of the building.

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