The Piedmont Family YMCA has been busy preparing to build a facility in Charlottesville‘s McIntire Park in the month since the state’s highest court dismissed a pair of lawsuits seeking to block its construction.
“We’ve pulled our building committee together to meet with the architect and the contractor to see where the price of the building is now,” said Kurt Krueger, chairman of the Piedmont YMCA’s board of directors.
The project was delayed following the May 2010 filing of a lawsuit by an organization of local fitness clubs, claiming that the city and Albemarle County were both in violation of the Virginia Public Procurement Act for contributions to the project’s construction.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in January that the cases were without merit.
Krueger said the actual constructions costs are now $14.77 million, higher than the $13.9 million estimate originally submitted by the firm Loughridge and Co. of Richmond.
Another price of $14.4 million had been negotiated once the cases were dismissed in Albemarle Circuit Court. Krueger said that price was short-lived.
“The day we were sitting down to negotiate that price was the day they filed the appeal to the Supreme Court,” Krueger said.
“This has cost us $800,000 in real dollars plus the lost revenue from not opening,” said Denny Blank, chief executive officer of the Piedmont Family YMCA.
The total cost of the project is $18.5 million when architectural and engineering services are added, as well as furnishings and equipment.
Krueger said the contractor is seeking ways to bring construction costs down by substituting materials with lower prices where possible.
“We are looking at ways to save on costs not necessarily by redesigning the building but by making choices in the materials to see if we can trim some of those costs,” Krueger said.
However, Krueger said the changes would be minor because the project has already received design approval by the Board of Architectural Review.
Krueger said the YMCA expects a final construction cost estimate by the end of the month.
Once the final construction plan is known, the YMCA will need to get a commitment letter from its bank and will have to submit a financing plan to City Manager Maurice Jones.
“All of these are in process and we can successfully complete them,” Krueger said.
Ground will not be broken until after the Dogwood Festival, which is held every April in the park.
“We don’t want to disrupt or cause any undue hardship to the people who have been putting that festival on for years,” Blank said.
Blank said that other activities in the park would also continue despite construction.
“We’ve been very cognizant of all events, including softball season,” Blank said. “All provisions are being made by the contractor to work around the city’s needs, and all of those needs are going to be accommodated. We are going to be causing the least disruption as possible.”
Blank estimated construction will take between 16 and 20 months.
“If we commence in early May, we are anticipating we can turn the keys to the building in 2014,” Blank said.
One open question is whether the YMCA will be responsible for paying a new stormwater utility fee on the building if the City Council opts to enact the fee. The city owns the land, but the
YMCA will own the 77,000-square-foot building.
“Should council approve the utility fee, we will consult with our attorney’s office on how this property would be handled with respect to billing,” said Kristel Riddervold, the city’s environmental administrator.
Blank said the YMCA’s parking lot will be done with pervious paving and there are several stormwater management facilities on the site.
“Because of the water retention and planning in place, our engineers have already determined there will be less runoff from the property than under existing conditions,” Blank said.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Daly said the City Council’s decision in 2007 to invite the YMCA to operate a facility in McIntire Park allowed the city to plan to operate and manage only one of its own indoor pools.
“It was recognized at the time that indoor pool space was needed in the region as the two city facilities were the only real year-round facilities open to the public,” Daly said.
The city opted to rebuild the Smith Aquatic Center at Buford Middle School and to eventually close Crow Pool at Walker Upper Elementary School. Smith re-opened in the fall of 2010.
“Crow Pool is still being used for programming, staff training and instruction and is open for lap swimming in the mornings to our pass holders,” Daly said. “The rest of the facility is used by other recreation programs, including portions of our therapeutic recreation program.”
Daly said the YMCA’s opening would allow the city to finally close Crow.