Planning Continues for Rehoboth Municipal Center UPDATE OCTOBER 5, 2012

Price not right on Rehoboth City Hall

Costs balloon to $20 million; task force considers options

By Ryan Mavity

Cape Gazette

When it comes to costs, Re­hoboth Beach City Hall is a work in progress.

The Rehoboth City Hall Mas­ter Plan Task Force has agreed on a basic plan to rebuild and renovate City Hall and is now working out the details. The first rough estimate called for $16 mil­lion in construction costs. But af­ter further tweaks to the plan, en­gineers put the cost at about $20 million.

City engineers EDiS Co. origi­nally proposed 39,000 square feet of new construction, with 5,000 square feet of renovated space. In August, those plans were updated; plans EDiS pre­sented at the task force's Sept. 13 meeting called for a total of 7,000 additional square feet.

Plans have called for a two­phase project. In the first phase, a new building that would eventu­ally be shared by the Rehoboth Beach Police Department and city administration would be constructed in the unused City Hall open space fronting Re­hoboth Avenue. City Hall would be demolished and replaced with a new building that houses police and city ad­ministrative offices. The conven­tion center's lobby and bath­rooms would be renovated, but there are no plans to close the convention center.

The parking lots on each side of the complex will be reversed, with the west parking lot to be used by the police and the east parking lot to be used by the pub­lic.

Mike Wigley, architect for Davis, Bowen and Friedel, which is working with EDiS on the proj­ect, said the cost increases came from adding a promenade to the front entrance – a response to the task force’s request for a more grand entrance to the building – and additional storage space for the police.

Robert Belfiore, chief estima­tor for EDiS, said the average cost per square foot is about $220 to $230. He said the cost increase is partly a result of the security associated with the police de­partment.

While estimates are still pre­liminary, task force members im­mediately set about finding ways to bring costs down. EDiS Execu­tive Vice President Rick DiS­abatino said the plans could be tweaked.

“This is so, so preliminary,” he said.

Mayor Sam Cooper said, “My problem is, at some point the commissioners are going to have to decide to go forward. If we say it’s absolutely a $20 million proj­ect, that might not fly.”

Task force member Jim Horty wondered just how much costs could be brought down and if the city had bitten off more than it can chew.

Even before the architects and engineers meet with the depart­ment heads to go over what can be cut, City Manager Greg Fer­rese said the cost could go down to $15.6 million .

Ferrese said if the city did not use state funds for the project, it could save $1.6 million the city would otherwise pay to meet state wage rates. Ferrese said the city would not likely get state funds for the project, and even if state money were available, it would not be worthwhile to pur­sue it.

He said the city could likely raise $2 million by selling 306 Re­hoboth Ave., the city-owned par­cel where building and licensing and the IT department are now located. The city built new of­fices on the property in 2009 at a cost of about $1 million.

Additional money could be saved by reducing square footage of the new building.

A potential sale of 306 Re­hoboth Ave. was not included in EDiS’s cost estimates. City offi­cials have made clear that they would like to move those depart­ments under one roof at a new City Hall.

EDiS has not solicited a full ap­praisal of 306 Rehoboth Ave. be­cause Cooper said that would be the city's responsibility. The company has roughly estimated a sale of the 17,000-square-foot property could raise $1 million to $2 million. Officials said the area of the building is about 5,000 square feet. Horty said the city should get an appraisal. He said the city could get $2 million for the land, but probably would not get any higher than $3 million.

“I think that, as so many build­ings in Rehoboth are, that build­ing is a liability to the property. The land is worth so much more than the building,” Cooper said.

The task force agreed to let Wigley, DiSabatino and Ferrese work with department heads to break out costs for each depart­ment. Ferrese said he believes the city can get the project down to $13 million.

Cooper said he wanted to take time on the project and was not looking at a particular start date.

Agenda for Sept 13  City Hall Master Plan Task Force meeting, 9:00  am, Commissioners' Room

The Task force will continue discussion, with the City’s consultant, of concept plans for the City Hall Complex, including cost estimates.

Discuss additional process and steps for plan development.

Discuss items to be included on future agendas.

Discuss setting next meeting date.

Rehoboth City Hall plans rounding into form

Next step: cost estimates, construction timelines

By Ryan Mavity

Cape Gazette  August 21, 2012

Rehoboth Beach's City Hall campus is slowly taking shape.

The City Hall Master Plan Task Force decided on a concept for the new campus and got its first look at what the rooms will look like at its Aug. 8 meeting.

The early schematics call for a multiphase project that would relocate all major city depart­ments under one roof.

Mike Wigley, architect with Davis, Bowen and Friedel, col­laborating with contractor EDiS Co., said the campus will occupy about the same footprint as the current building, with 6,000 ad­ditional square feet of office stor­age and space.

The first phase of the plan is to build a 12,560-square-foot addi­tion at the Rehoboth Avenue en­trance to City Hall, and relocate the Rehoboth Police Department and the city administrative of­fices there on a temporary basis. Eventually, the entire addition would be used by the police.

The existing city hall would be torn down and rebuilt. The base­ment would be used for storage and police locker rooms. The first floor would be split between the police and city administra­tion, with a public walkway and reception area leading to the Re­hoboth Beach Convention Cen­ter. Changes to the convention center are a new entrance, new bathrooms and lobby area.

The second floor is again split between the police and city ad­ministration. The chief’s office will be on this floor as well as a training room. The city commis­sioners’ room, building inspec­tor’s office and Alderman’s Court will be on the other side. One new wrinkle is a caucus room for the commissioners for executive sessions.

Plans show two entrances to the building: one on Rehoboth Avenue, the second from the east parking lot, next to the fire hall. Architects have proposed revers­ing the parking pattern: the west lot would be used by police; the east lot would be used by the public. A sally port or secure en­tryway has been proposed for the police entrance from the west lot for more secure trans­portation of prisoners.

Wigley said by eliminating the tech services building – the brick building at the east end of the lot – the east parking lot picks up addi­tional spaces, bringing the total amount to 106 parking spots. Plans call for 55 spaces in the west lot, he said.

Still unknown at this time is the fate of 306 Rehoboth Ave., the city­owned building currently occu­pied by the building and licensing and IT departments. The task force has said it will determine the value of the building before decid­ing what to do with it. In previous meetings, Wigley said estimates have put the building’s value at $1 million, although a full appraisal has not been done. Mayor and task force Chairman Sam Cooper said that value reflected the building value rather than the land value. Commissioner Pat Coluzzi asked for a full appraisal of the building.

Commissioner Stan Mills said he was hoping for a more grand entrance to the convention cener than the long hallway that was proposed. Cooper said he liked the concept proposed but he wanted the building to have a pitched roof, as opposed to a flat roof. He said while a pitched roof would be more expensive, it would add architectural appeal.

The next order of business for the architects is to present cost es­timates and construction time­lines.

Rick DiSabatino, executive vice president of EDiS, said part of the work on construction timelines will include talking with city de­partments on constructing the new building with the least distur­bance to city business. DiSabatino said his firm will work on phasing and duration of phases, as well as packaging for advertising to bid­ders.

While the city has not commit­ted any funds for construction yet – those would have to be approved by the city commissioners – Coop­er said he wants to have the proj­ect far enough along for the city to apply for federal money if a new stimulus package is passed after the November election.

After the meeting, Mills said ar­chitects have come up with a good plan so far in identifying all city department needs and then using that data to lay out the building. He said he is looking forward to presenting the final plans to the public and getting their feedback. The task force’s next scheduled meeting is 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 13.

Fate of nearby public property undecided

Photo by: Ryan Mavity Architect Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, talks to the Rehoboth Beach City Hall Complex Master Plan Task Force on concept plans for a new City Hall.

Rehoboth Beach — Hannibal Smith of "The A-Team" used to love it when a plan came together, and one is slowly coming together in Rehoboth Beach for a revamping of the City Hall campus.

The City Hall Master Plan Task Force has agreed on a concept plan for a multiphase rebuilding and reorganization of City Hall.

While the city has not committed to anything, the task force will work with engineers from EDiS Co. and architects from Salisbury-based Davis, Bowen and Friedel on further refining the concept.

The project would start with building an addition on the vacant land in front of the Rehoboth Avenue entrance to the police station that would eventually be occupied by the Rehoboth Beach Police Department.

The existing City Hall would then be demolished and temporary facilities would be built for the city administration and Alderman’s Court. A new building would be constructed at the old City Hall site that would house the administrative offices on one side and a processing center for the police department on the other.

Under this plan, the parking at the convention center would be switched, with the triangular lot on the west side of the building to be used by the police department and the east lot to be used by the public.

Public access to the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center would also be switched; instead of access from the west parking lot, the public would be able to access the convention center and city departments from the Rehoboth Avenue entrance. The police station would also have an attached sally port that will allow prisoners to be moved securely.

The cost of the project has been estimated to be between $13.5 million and $15.5 million, depending on what the city plans to do with the current building and licensing facility at 306 Rehoboth Ave.

City Manager Greg Ferrese has stated his desire to move all major city departments under one roof. He said having all departments together will decrease utility costs and improve communication.

Mayor Sam Cooper said, “If you don’t move that function up here now, and we have it provided for here, you probably never will.”

Commissioner Stan Mills said, “The concept of an integrated complex is very powerful.”

The land at 306 Rehoboth Ave. is owned by the city; building and licensing and information technology moved into the building in 2009.

The building was supposed to be Phase 1 in the city’s last attempt to upgrade its administrative facilities, proposed by Wilmington-based Tevebaugh Associates as a four-phase $30 million project. However, the city’s relationship with Tevebaugh soured due to personality conflicts and concerns about costs.

At the behest of the task force, Mike Wigley, architect for Davis, Bowen and Friedel, did an analysis of the 306 Rehoboth Ave. property and came up with different scenarios for how to handle the space.

Wigley said the property could be leased, sold or continue to be used as a city office space. He said selling the building could be sold for an estimated $1 million, although committee member Jim Horty speculated the building could be worth closer to $2 million

“Our opinion is, operationally, if you are looking for a fully integrated municipal complex, that it would favor the relocation of those (building and licensing and IT) to the City Hall complex,” Wigley said.

Wigley said if the city wanted to keep the building and use it as office space, the two best contenders for a move could be Alderman’s Court and Rehoboth Beach Main Street. Wigley suggested having the building at 306 Rehoboth Ave. appraised to get a better sense of what the value is.

Besides the fate of 306 Rehoboth Ave., the task force is also trying to figure out the parking situation at a revamped City Hall. Wigley said he thinks a mass of parking is needed for the convention center. While the concept agreed upon by the task force moves public parking to the east lot, Wigley said the potential is there for the city to build a parking garage.

Horty said a parking garage, which has been studied many times over the years, would cost an astronomical amount of money for something that would only be used a few weekends out of the year. He also said the proposed site on the east parking lot is a nightmare, access-wise.

“How much do the taxpayers of Rehoboth want to spend for something that would be used very little?” Horty said.

Cooper said while he is not in favor of a parking garage, he does not want to eliminate the possibility of one if it made sense for the city to do one.

While the task force has not gotten around to discussing how the city would pay for a City Hall rebuild, Cooper said it is important to at least have a plan in place for grants or even another federal stimulus.

“I think there’s not an unreasonable chance that there’s going to be some federal money. The way this economy is going, I don’t care who gets elected in November, I think they are going to be looking to stimulate things next year,” he said.

Wigley said the next round of plans would include a site plan and floor plan layouts, with cost estimates attached.

The task force will meet again at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 8.

Engineers finish base drawings, needs assessment

By Ryan Mavity | Mar 21, 2012
Photo by: File Engineers and architects are wrapping up the first phase of a feasibility study of Rehoboth Beach's City Hall complex, which featured assessments of the building and interviews with city department heads.

Rehoboth Beach — Information is the order of the day for engineers EDiS Co. and architects from Davis, Bowen and Friedel as they gear up to develop a concept plan for Rehoboth Beach’s municipal complex

The work is part of a multiphase study that will eventually result in plans for a new and improved municipal complex. The project has been divided into three phases, giving the city the flexibility to stop after any particular phase. The first two phases, which cover information gathering and early concept plans, are estimated to cost $45,000.

Architect Mike Wigley of Salisbury-based Davis, Bowen and Friedel said while information is still being gathered, base drawings have been prepared detailing floor plans of the existing city hall and convention center, along with the site plan of the current city hall complex property.

Wigley said interviews have been conducted with department heads to gain insight into their operations and spatial needs, and a draft summary of needs is being reviewed. After follow-up interviews with the department heads, the draft will be updated prior to conceptual planning design.

A structural assessment has been performed and a draft report will be prepared. A building code evaluation is under way with a draft report to follow, Wigley said.

Mayor Sam Cooper said the architects will present their findings in a report to the City Hall Complex Master Plan Task Force, which Cooper chairs. He said he did not know when the task force would meet to discuss the report.

He said the conceptual planning phase, Phase 2 of the project, should begin in mid-March, pending approval by the city commissioners.

This second phase will start to get down to the nitty-gritty of the project: recommending the most cost-effective solution for renovating or rebuilding City Hall, complete with diagrams, building layouts and cost estimates.

“I think there’s been substantial progress,” Cooper said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Rehoboth task force approves $45,000 city hall study

Proposal awaits commissioner approval

By Ryan Mavity, Cape Gazette, December 13

A $45,000, two-phase proposal to assess Rehoboth Beach’s mu­nicipal complex awaits the ap­proval of the city commissioners. The study will examine the city’s current facilities, evaluate how city departments work with one another in the building and prepare preliminary designs and cost estimates.

The City Hall Complex Master Plan Task Force solicited a pro­posal from EDIs Co. to conduct a needs assessment at its Nov. 28 meeting.

The task force met again Dec. 8 to hear EDIs’s proposal, as sub­mitted by Executive Vice Presi­dent Rick DiSabatino, collaborat­ing with Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, a Salisbury-Md.-based architectural and en­gineering firm. DiSabatino and Wigley pre­sented a three-phase, $73,000 proposal; the task force agreed to move forward with only the first two phases.

The first phase is information gathering. EDIs will interview department heads and city staff to evaluate space requirements at City Hall for three depart­ments: the Rehoboth Beach Po­lice Department, city administra­tive offices and Alderman’s Court 37.

Wigley said the first phase will also include an evaluation of City Hall’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural status to look for deficiencies.

The study will provide data to justify replacing the building should the city decide to go in that direction, he said.

EDIs will also provide draw­ings of the existing facilities for planning purposes and provide an inventory and longevity as­sessment of the building to help develop cost estimates. Compa­ny officials estimated Phase 1 would take six to seven weeks.

“This is the platform we use to do the actual study,” Wigley said of Phase 1.

Phase 2: Conceptual planning

The second phase will feature recommendations for the most cost-effective solution to im­proving City Hall and whether the city should renovate the ex­isting facility or build a new one. In its proposal, EDIs says it will provide several diagrams and building layouts, with cost esti­mates, before narrowing the choices down to two or three de­signs.

Wigley said the drawings in this phase would be somewhat crude, not showing every room, instead showing where the vari­ous departments might be locat­ed. “The conceptual planning phase is the first step into seeing how a new layout might work,” he said.

EDIs’s third phase would take the longest, 11 to 12 weeks, and would develop three conceptual plans for new construction or renovation of City Hall, with rec­ommendations and cost esti­mates. Task force member Jim Ellison said after the first two phases were complete, the city will have a better idea of what it wants to do: go ahead with Phase 3 or stop.

DiSabatino said the proposal was set up so that if the city wanted to stop after any of the three phases, it could. Wigley said nothing in the proposal was cast in stone, and phases could be modified as the study moves along.

The task force decided to send the entire proposal to the com­missioners for approval, stipulat­ing in EDIs’ contract the city has the option to stop before Phase 3. Wigley said the next step is to begin preparing and sending out questionnaires to the various de­partment heads working at City Hall.

Assessment could take four-to-six months

By Ryan Mavity | Dec 05, 2011, Cape Gazette
Photo by: File photo The Rehoboth Beach City Hall Complex Master Plan Task Force has solicited a proposal from EDis Co. to conduct a feasibility study of the city's municipal building.

Rehoboth Beach — Rehoboth Beach officials have taken the first baby steps towards upgrading municipal facilities.

The City Hall Complex Master Plan Task Force has solicited a proposal from EDis Co. to conduct a needs assessment. EDis has offices in Wilmington and West Chester, Pa.

EDis Executive Vice President Rick DiSabatino said the company will propose a feasibility study to determine how the departments at City Hall – the Rehoboth Beach Police Department, city administrative offices and Alderman’s Court 37 – work together.

Collaborating with EDis on the study is Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, a Salisbury-based architectural and engineering firm.

“We want to make sure, functionally, the building works,” Wigley said at the task force’s Nov. 28 meeting.

Wigley asked ask force Chairman Mayor Sam Cooper to define the project's goal. Cooper said the police station is woefully inadequate for the department’s modern needs, with inadequate technological capabilities, lack of space to interview people and lack of space for detainees.

Cooper said the administrative offices were not as problematic, although more space is needed.

“We meet the letter of the law. We’ve done what we could. But it’s not adequate heading into the future,” Cooper said. “We have a building that we’ve outgrown, and it’s probably outdated.”

Commissioner Stan Mills pointed out the lack of handicapped access throughout the building. Cooper said the only handicapped access to the basement-level commissioner’s room is a 30-year-old chair lift.

Mills said, “Likely it’s not feasible or cost-effective to remodel this.”

Task force member Jim Horty said, “The facility hasn’t changed, that’s what’s amazing to me. It’s like stepping into a time warp.”

Cooper said he believes the convention center is suitable, although it could use upgrades to the bathrooms and a more inviting entrance.

Police Chief Keith Banks suggested eliminating vehicle traffic in the alleyway between the police station and the fire hall. He said trucks offloading at the convention center block police cars getting into the parking lot. Banks said the public alleyway also makes it difficult to securely bring prisoners into the building.

After the meeting, Wigley said the study would start with discussion with department heads, city officials and task force members. From there, a program document will be prepared, identifying square footage needs.

If the city approves of the program document, Wigley said, the next step is to prepare concept plans showing various site-plan and floor-plan options showing how the city hall complex could be developed. Cost estimates would be assigned to each option.

“The time frame can vary for such studies, but 4 to 6 months is common for this type of facilities assessment,” Wigley said.

For the city, Cooper said the next step is getting the proposal and then getting the commissioners to approve a contract with EDis to conduct the needs assessment. Commissioner Pat Coluzzi asked DiSabatino to complete the assessment by January so the city could consider budgeting any city hall upgrades. The city’s budget must be in place by April 1. DiSabatino said cost estimates would be included in EDis’s proposal, although there won’t be any costs to the city until it enters into a formal contract with EDis.

The task force will hold its next meeting at 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, in the city commissioners’ room.

Rehoboth starts long road to new municipal complex

Cooper: Not in city's interest to remodel

By Ryan Mavity. Cape Gazette November 11

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In the last 10 years, Rehoboth Beach has rebuilt its Rehoboth Avenue sidewalks, Lake Gerar Bridge and the Boardwalk, among numerous other projects.

But now, the city is turning its attention to the next big project: rebuilding Rehoboth City Hall.

The city hall complex master plan task force held its first meet-ng Nov. 3, more than three years after city officials dropped the last effort to renovate city facilities.

Mayor Sam Cooper said, “ The effort of this task force, if you will, is to put together a plan to move forward.”

Cooper said the improved city hall should house city adminis-rative offices, Alderman’s Court and Rehoboth Beach Police Department.

However, the improvements would not include extensive up-grades to the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, other than to upgrade the restrooms, Cooper said.

Cooper said Richard DiSabatino of EDiS Co. has offered to work with the city on a municipal complex project. The task force agreed to invite him to its Nov. 21 meeting.

Task force member Jim Horty also recommended using an office-planning firm to evaluate city facilities to determine the best use of the space.

Cooper said he did not want to put a budget on the project until the city has a better sense of what will be done.

Three years ago, the city commissioners commissioned plans from Wilmington- based archi-tects Tevebaugh Associates for a new complex. Tevebaugh came up with a $ 27 million, four-phase plan that included a new building and licensing facility, new police station, new city administrative offices, improvements to the convention center and a parking deck. The city’s relationship with Tevebaugh deteriorated due to personality conflicts and the city’s view that Tevebaugh’s proposals were too expensive.

A walk through the police station

The city administrative offices would not be a difficult fix because all they need is space to set up desks and computers, Cooper said. Police and 911 facilities, on the other hand, are not adequate for the technological needs of the department.

Following the task force meet-ing, members Jim Ellison and Ken Simpler were given a tour of the police building.

Rehoboth police Chief Keith Banks said the two biggest problems are storage and the inadequate technological capabilities of the facility, which was not built with computers in mind.

Because of the lack of storage space, the department resorts to storing files and evidence wher-ever it can, on different floors throughout the building.

Other problems with the facility include handicapped access – officers have to physically carry handicapped people down stairs to get to the holding area – and a lack of separation between juvenile and adult offenders in the holding area. Banks said by law, juveniles and adults must be held in separate areas where they can't see or hear each other.

The holding area, which also doubles as a officers' room and where tests for blood alcohol lev-els are administered, has poor ventilation; it's hot in summer and cold in winter. Officers and offenders must also share a rest-room.

Banks said among his priorities is the alleyway between the fire hall and the police department, which he said should be closed to vehicle traffic, and a secure entrance, or sally port, should be installed at the rear entrance to the station. Banks said convention center delivery trucks frequently block police cars from getting out.

“ I don’t even know the exact square footage here because we’re so cut up, and we’re in different parts of the building. I think the whole place is going to have to be knocked down and started over so it’s flat and level,” Banks said.

While no direct design ideas were discussed, Cooper and Commissioner Stan Mills suggested one way to rebuild the police station is to build a new 911 center first, so they can move with no disruption to service, and then work on the rest of the building.

Cooper said, “ I’m of the view that this building is so cut up that it’s probably not in the city’s best interest to try to remodel. I think you’re throwing good money after bad. Conventional wisdom is you need a two- story building to utilize the land to its best advantage.”