City Offices on Docket for Council Tonight

If approved, the city can open the construction job for bids and move closer to groundbreaking.

Constructing new offices for city employees is expected to cost at least $14.1 million, and administrators are asking permission from the Novato City Council on Tuesday to OK that plan and open construction bids.

The city administrative offices are to be built at the corner of Machin Avenue and Cain Lane on land that serves as a civic parking lot just south of the long-closed . Most of Novato's employees have worked in leased space on Rowland Way since a cluster of city-owned buildings off Sherman Avenue were red-tagged by the fire marshal.

According to a staff report, Kitchell, the project/construction management company for the project, has been providing regular updates to staff about the bill for the 18,887-square-foot, two story complex just steps away from . The design has been completed by RMW Architecture and Interiors.

When the City Council approved the project on May 10, 2011, the high-range estimate for all costs was $16.5 million. Although some residents expressed support for relocating staff members downtown and creating a long-wished-for civic center area, others all but begged the council to buy an existing building and spent the capital-improvement money on other projects.

Tuesday's meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Novato City Hall.

Tina McMillan May 23, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Folks its useless arguing with JLG (a pseudonym as far as I can tell). His comments are meant to inflame and detract from any real dialogue. If you go back and reread his posts he is upset by how few people voted in the last election and in his mind, this is our reward. He sees the city offices as punishment for apathy. Most of his comments are not supported by facts. What seems to work best is to ignore him. According to Wikipedia its best not to feed the "trolls." Jim L. Grimes 2:32 pm on Monday, March 26, 2012 If your unhappy run for the office . If safety is a problem in this town , why did only 10,000 people vote last election ? Nothing is going to change .
Tina McMillan May 23, 2012 at 06:18 AM
The city can't use any of the RDA money outside of the $6 million in cash, to purchase an existing building that will be used as a partial rent back because they specifically had the loan repaid with a tax free bond measure that included a clause that prohibits spending the money in this manner. The money can only be used to build and what is built must be completed in three years or the money gets returned. It is the most dysfunctional, bizarrely limiting plan that I can possibly conceive of and yet our council and city manager all agreed to it.
Tina McMillan May 23, 2012 at 06:39 AM
The Novato city council risks having more than just mud on their faces if Novato's structural budget deficit is made worse by the city's poor planning with regards to the downtown offices. Though it is Novato residents who will suffer most, the city council members will long be remembered for spending $700 to $750 dollars a square foot, not including the value of the land or the interest payments on the loan, on a single 23,000 square foot downtown office building whose value will immediately drop by $9 million at its point of completion. This is the single biggest nostalgic mistake the city has made since its inception. It was pushed forward by former council members and a small group of residents who seem to lack any real concern for finances, city services and downtown businesses. Gail Wilhelm was heard to comment that the business owners themselves should be assessed a fee if they want a separate parking structure to be built. Though we claim to want revenue from sales tax we are the most business unfriendly town in all of Marin. This building is a farce. It was never necessary except in the minds of the people for whom it represents a kind of status symbol. Who in their right mind builds offices for $700 a square foot when they can be purchased for $300 a square foot along with ample parking?
J. Feldman May 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Tina: Lots of good points. I own interests in a few commercial buildings (not in California), and know what people are leasing these days. Even in large metropolitan areas, to build something that expensive is not in the cards any more - not for your run of the mill commercial property. Very few people are building anything, much less in this state. For a small cash poor city in cash poor California it is fiscally insane! To house 60 public employees? We lease space to medical groups with more employees than that - and far larger operating budgets than Novato (and they make profits too!). They keep overhead down and lease, and not Class A properties either. Office space is overhead - it doesn't get you anything but big bills to pay at the end of the month. If high end for profit businesses keep costs down, why does Novato want to erect a monument? This recession will last several more years - perhaps longer - and the city will feel it just as we all will. This seems to be "mill Valley envy". Well, Novato is not Mill Valley - never will be. And Mill Valley is not insane enough to spend themselves into the toilet. No one is impressed by expensive City offices - especially when you can't pay for the towels in the bathrooms!
BH May 23, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thanks Jim for offering free hotdogs, but I won't be there. Most of us didn't run out of gas, but rather have run out of options to bring sense to this process. Why would anything I have to say about the building be useful at this point? I do not know much about architecture and frankly don't care what they build as it is the wrong building in the wrong place for the wrong amount of money. As you said earlier, you won and conversely, we and most of the citizens of Novato lost. Enjoy your party, I hope the financial hangover doesn't hurt too much. Contrary to what you probably believe, those of us involved in the opposition really do care about Novato. I live here, I work here, I employ people here, I own commercial property in downtown and I don't have any plans to go away. That is why your financial folly hurts because I am one of those that will get to pay for it. I will be there when the construction bids are discussed. I sure hope they don't come in over the already bloated budget.


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