City Center construction on track to finish in October despite time lost

Construction workers spread cement on the second floor of the City Center Tuesday morning. (Photos by Clint Riese)

Construction workers spread cement on the second floor of the City Center Tuesday morning. (Photos by Clint Riese)

Crews have lost 18 days to weather

 

City Center project manager Brett Baldry studies his calendar in the construction trailer. Eighteen days of work have been lost to weather.

City Center project manager Brett Baldry studies his calendar in the construction trailer. Eighteen days of work have been lost to weather.

Clint Riese
News Editor

This winter’s deep freeze has Brett Baldry studying the calendar.

As construction company Kraus Anderson’s project manager for the Forest Lake City Center, it falls to him to decipher a projected completion date for the $18.76 million project after crews lost 18 days of work over the first two months of 2014 due to the weather.

“It’s been a tough winter,” Baldry said on Tuesday. “It wasn’t the amount of snow; it was the cold.”

Company safety policies prevented crews from working when the mercury did not rise far enough by the start of the workday.

The original goal was for move-in to commence by the beginning of October, but the target is floating for now.

“At this point in time, we’d be spinning our wheels (if we try to make up for the lost construction time) because we have frozen ground, and where it’s not frozen, it’s a mud hole,” Baldry said. “So we’re starting to put more activity into the places that we can. Once we get things enclosed, then we can start concentrating more effort on picking up a few days here and there. Do we anticipate picking up all the days? No, we don’t.”

Still, Baldry does not predict a large impact. If anything, the revised completion estimate may fall to mid-October.

Progress is evident as the combined city hall and public safety building changes form by the day. The large crane used to hoist precast walls into place was being disassembled Tuesday morning, as those final segments will be in place by the end of the week.

Baldry expects structural steel installation to wrap up by the middle of next week and roof installation to follow forthright. Late March will bring the start of the installation of a steel stud wall system around the City Hall and council chambers.

The project’s budget looks favorable with work about 30 percent complete.

“We’ve hit very little of the contingency that’s been set aside for this project, plus we’re still sitting with the same surplus project budget that we’ve had showing since after the bids,” Baldry said. “Things have been going very well when you start talking money.”

On the city’s end, preparation is well underway for the move and for new quarters. Police Chief Rick Peterson and Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius are working with architects on remaining interior specifics such as doors and locks.

Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius makes an observation to Police Chief Rick Peterson while touring the construction site Tuesday morning.

Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius makes an observation to Police Chief Rick Peterson while touring the construction site Tuesday morning.

Fire Department members will visit the site this month, Sigfrinius said. Construction of that department’s quarters is furthest along.

Police Department employees will tour the construction site in April. The first floor of their future space is currently enclosed in plastic as crews use heaters to thaw the ground so concrete can be poured.

Move-in day cannot come fast enough, Peterson said, given the facility issues his department has recently endured. A burst water pipe in February nearly flooded the lower-level evidence room and detective offices. Then, water from the roof leaked into the sally port. More recently, the floor of the women’s locker room buckled and popped out tiles.

“Honestly, we’ve had more issues at that place in the last two months than we’ve had in a while,” Peterson said.

The chiefs and City Administrator Aaron Parrish are beginning to think through policies and timelines for moving in.

“We all hope that everyone is going to get a square box and that’s all they’re taking over, but there’s more to it than you think,” Parrish said.

City employees are sorting items to keep or toss, and an auction will eventually be held at the current city hall and police station.

The future of that building also moved onto the radar this week, as a Reuse Committee made up of members of the City Council, Economic Development Authority and Planning Commission held its first meeting Wednesday. The committee will eventually recommend whether to redevelop the building, put it for sale as is, or come up with something in between.

No matter its final fate, the building will be kept open through Nov. 4. State law forbids holding a general election at a location different than the primary election. The primary election will be held Aug. 12, so the city must keep the building operational for nearly three more months.

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