Powerhouse restrooms set for renovation

Powerhouse restrooms set for renovation
The Powerhouse Community Center restrooms will soon undergo upgrades. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — Beachgoers and visitors to Powerhouse Community Center will soon have a cleaner place to clean up after council members at the Jan. 19 meeting awarded a construction contract to rehabilitate the public restrooms at the oceanfront facility.

The Richards Group’s $132,160 proposal was the lower of two bids submitted when the project was advertised late last year.

Norse Corporation submitted a bid for $175,000. Contracting laws allow the city to award the contract to the lowest responsive bidder, which in this case is The Richards Group.

The estimated $171,700 project includes plumbing, ventilation, lighting, waterproofing and roof improvements, as well as a $12,840 contingency for unexpected costs.

The city has already allocated $100,000 for the renovation. An additional $71,700 is available in the major facilities maintenance project fund.

City staff began working on the renovation in March 2015. Solana Beach-based Stephen Dalton Architects was unanimously selected in late April to design the project.

“When I tasked the architect with this project, I made it clear that we were not just expecting a ‘rehabilitation,’” Public Works Director Eric Minicilli stated in a staff report. “We wanted the facility to feel like it was brand new.”

In his report Minicilli stated that he spoke with Maile D’Arcy, president of the Friends of the Powerhouse, about fundraising for upgrades such as fixtures but not toilets and sinks.

“I do not know where they stand with those efforts, but certainly additional budget or donations could be used to upgrade aspects of the project during the construction phase,” Minicilli added.

The mission of the Friends of the Powerhouse is to help the city preserve historical and architecturally significant properties and protect community landmarks in the beach area.

Since its inception in the late 1980s the nonprofit organization has raised about $1.5 million for a variety of projects, including construction of the beach safety center and lifeguard tower and restoration of the iconic powerhouse, which was built in 1928 to replace the Stratford Inn’s original powerhouse.

Huge boilers supplied hot water for the pool, hotel, cottages and laundry facility. Three years after a bankruptcy sale in 1955, it became The Powerhouse Roaring’20s, a nightclub with waitresses dressed as flappers and waiters and bartenders in derbies and vests.

The nightclub closed in 1962. The inside of the building was renovated in 1965 for use as a desalination plant. In 1983 the city bought the facility and, with help from Friends of the Powerhouse, created the existing community center.

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