Atherton's City Council has asked project architects to design options that could reduce the cost of the town's new civic center if bids on the project exceed current cost estimates.
The town expects the project to go out for bids in January, and is now pre-qualifying interested contractors.
The contractors will bid on the project both with and without the options, so if bids are high, aspects of the project can be dropped to reduce the cost. Many of the options would defer parts of the project, so if they were eventually built the total cost of the project would rise.
City Manager George Rodericks said it is expensive to redesign the project for some of the options because most project features are interconnected. If a feature is eliminated or deferred, the systems connected to it must be redesigned to function without those features, and in some cases to accommodate adding them back later, he said.
The current estimated cost is $25.17 million for construction and site development of the new administration and police building, the new council chamber/emergency operations center, and the town's corporation yard, where the town's maintenance equipment is stored.
The library's construction and site development cost is just under $15 million.
A staff report says project manager Mack5 has suggested that bids could come in up to 10 percent higher than its most recent cost estimates. The alternatives will allow the town to reduce the cost of the project if that happens.
The options the council chose that could reduce costs would:
• Defer improvements to the town's corporation yard at potential savings of $1.43 million, but with up to $20,000 in additional design costs.
• Defer building a new council chamber/emergency operations center at potential savings of $1 million, but up to $88,000 in additional design costs.
• Replace wood windows with aluminum in the library at potential savings of $241,000, but with $15,000 in design costs.
• Plant grass instead of other landscaping (not including the library area) at potential savings of $223,000. There would be no additional design costs because this aspect of the project has already been designed.
• Plant grass instead of other landscaping in the library area at potential savings of $366,000, but with $8,000 in design costs.
The council put off a decision on whether to spend up to $85,000 on design work involved in deferring the renovation of the historic current council chambers, which could save $1.14 million, until it takes a closer look at the available funds for the library project on July 19.
Mr. Rodericks said redesigning the project to defer the renovation of the historic chambers is expensive because the work is part of the library project, and is currently designed with interconnected heating, air conditioning and electrical systems.