DEL MAR — During a nearly three-hour discussion at the May 19 meeting about replacing City Hall with a civic center, at least one council member said he wasn’t sure he could now support the project given the estimated cost.
Council unanimously agrees the existing facility needs to be demolished. Employees don’t have indoor restrooms and parts of the ceiling have collapsed within the past few years.
When they began seriously considering the project – efforts in the past have failed – the estimated cost was $12 million, which included additional parking.
Probable costs presented by a consultant ranged from just under $10 million to nearly $18 million.
The least expensive option included a 9,250-square-foot City Hall, 100-seat Town Hall, 15,000-square-foot plaza and surface parking for 50 to 75 cars.
On the other end of the spectrum would be a 10,000-square-foot City Hall, 150-seat Town Hall, 15,000-square-foot plaza and 150-car parking structure.
The type of parking had the biggest impact on the price.
“I’ve got a case of sticker shock here,” Councilman Don Mosier said, adding that parking is pricey and the city needs to determine exactly how much is needed.
“The inescapable fact is that underground parking, even if it’s tuck-under parking, is very expensive,” he said.
Spaces from an in-lieu program — an agreement in which business owners pay a fee for future parking rather than provide spaces — are slated to be part of the project.
Mosier also noted the least expensive option is “just adequate” to meet the needs of the city.
“I don’t want to finance $13 (million) to $16 million, and I don’t think the city can afford to do that,” Mosier said.
Councilman Al Corti said he also had sticker shock, calling the $17 million figure “way out of whack,” especially since the city initially expected the price tag to be about $12 million.
“Am I now as in favor of building this as I was before?” he asked. “The answer is no … regardless of whether the city could afford it.”
Corti said he isn’t convinced $17 million is an adequate estimate. “I would like us to work on a process that can get the cost down to a more palatable number … closer to when we started this,” he said.
Mayor Lee Haydu noted at this point that will be difficult to do since there isn’t even a design yet.
City officials hope to hone in on what the community wants at a June 9 workshop.
During the marathon discussion, council also learned the highest and best economic use for the property at 1050 Camino del Mar, where City Hall is currently located, is multifamily housing, single-family housing, commercial and a hotel, in that order.
A consultant from Keyser Marston Associates said the analysis, based on residual land value per square foot, assumes City Hall is not located on the site. It looks at revenue from the different types of development that could help fund construction of the facility on part of the lot.
The assumptions were that the city could sell all or part of the property. He stressed the scenarios are assumptions and not recommendationa. He also said other consultants may come up with different numbers but he doubted the order of use would change.
According to the analysis, multifamily development could net between $10 million and $13 million, while a hotel would result in a negative gain.
Yet another consultant provided council with an estimate of the city’s financing capacity. According to an analysis from Fieldman Rolapp, the city could borrow between $13 million and $27 million, depending on whether parking revenue is factored in.
All presentations at the meeting were informational only. City officials will use the information as guidelines as the process moves forward and public input is garnered at upcoming workshops.