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Novato Council to Vote on City Offices Construction Bid Tonight

If bid is awarded, San Leandro company will break ground in a few weeks and finish the 19,000-square-foot building by September 2013.

Novato has found the construction firm it wants to build a new 18,887-square-foot, two-story administrative office for city employees starting this summer.

City engineering staff is recommending the Sausal Corporation of San Leandro based on its bid of $10.8 million, putting the project on course to cost about $14.5 million when adding architectural design, project management and other expenses, according to a city staff report.

The Novato City Council will vote on the matter Thursday event at a special meeting at . The topic is the only item on the agenda, and the meeting starts at 6 p.m.

If the contract is approved, groundbreaking will be July 17, marking a milestone step in returning city employees to the heart of downtown — a location they left in 2004 when a cluster of city-owned office buildings were declared unsafe by the fire marshal.

"We are very excited," City Manager Michael Frank said Thursday. "This has been a long process for the city to move downtown but a fast process to get this building up and get us moved in prior to moving out of 75 Rowland. We need to get out of the $700,000 in rent money and into owning a building."

The target completion date is September 2013, which corresponds with the month the lease is expected to jump by $100,000 per year at the Rowland complex.

Sausal project manager Rusty Abernathy complimented the building design by RMW Architecture and Interiors of San Francisco. RMW is getting roughly $814,000 for its portion of the project. Abernathy added that the construction bill is a good deal for the city.

"The advantages of a municipality building during a bad economy is that they get the building for a whole lot cheaper than they otherwise would," he said. "This building would cost a whole lot more five years ago. You're getting the best value per dollar you'd ever get."

Sausal, established in 1963, is among the top 20 general contracting firms in the Bay Area and has secured contracts worth an average of more than $40 million over the past five years, according to its website. It has built schools, libraries, fire stations, gymnasiums, aquatic parks, school football stadiums and housing complexes, almost all in the East Bay.

The Novato project would be its first in Marin County, at least in recent decades, according to a company source. Abernathy was the project manager when Sausal built New Technology High School in Napa a few years ago.

Novato city staff received 25 responses to the request for construction proposals, 20 bidders were prequalified. Nine sent in bids, including Arntz Builders and West Bay Builders, both based in Novato. Frank said the city must choose the lowest responsible bidder. Sausal's bid calculates to $363 per square foot.

The council  the plan to build a new home for about 60 city employees who now work at leased offices at  near the . The city's general plan called for a civic center area in Old Town that included Novato City Hall, the  and an office complex.

The city expected to spend about $16 million on the new building, set to be built at an existing parking lot at Machin Avenue and Cain Lane. Last year the estimate was revised to $12 million to $15 million. The bulk of money comes from funds formerly owed to the city’s general fund by the Novato Redevelopment Agency, which has been shut down. 

Frank said a 10 percent contingency is built into the construction contract with Sausal.

The building, to be just north of the , is to include a 9,053-square-foot basement garage with 25 parking spaces to complement the 31 spaces in a surface parking lot where the existing lot exists. 

Bob Ratto July 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Welcome to New Math. Spend a little over $10MM, for a little less than 20k square feet, and call it $363 per foot. Perhaps this could be a peek into our budget messes.
janna nikkola July 06, 2012 at 03:30 AM
If it's an 18,887 sq ft building and will cost $14,800,000 to build, it looks l ike $783.61 per sq ft to me. Sounds like the City of Novato talking. I'm taking bets on whether it really will be completed by September 2013 and how much more than $14,800,000 it'll actually cost. With a 10% contingency, that should bring the actual cost up to $16,280,000 or $861.97 per sq ft. Is there anyone out there who knows of a construction company that did NOT use the 10% contingency, especially on a municipal building project? I'm very skeptical of any municipal building project because civil service employees have no accountability. Regardless of how much it will actually cost to construct this building and regardless how much longer it actually takes to build it, there are no consequences for anyone working for the City so there's no incentive to hustle. In the private sector, heads roll when a project goes over budget and past the scheduled completion date -- and that's how it should be.
Bob Ratto July 06, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Janna Thank you for the math calculations, which really point to the absurdity of the numbers...this is free land, we are talking construction cost here. It is really the equivalent of saying it would cost $1.6MM to merely build a 2k house. Well, when they inevitably try and push for the extension of Measure F, I think I will just take a picture of the shiny new building, and send it with a nice note saying "no thanks", we still have about $36MM in bond payments due.
Renee July 06, 2012 at 03:10 PM
How can Novato City council think that hiring a NON LOCAL construction co. is the right thing for Novato. I was at the meeting with the carpenter local 35 pleading for the city council to consider West Bay Builders for the Job, But West Bay Builders apparently had some problems with the formal bids. The city council made a decision that just took a possible job away from my husband and many other out of work local carpernters that reside in Novato! THANKS FOR NOTHING!!!!

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