The city will need to almost double the floor space of seven of its buildings by 2025 as the demand for municipal services increases, a new master plan shows.
Blythe Group consultants presented their findings and general options for new buildings to the Durango City Council on Tuesday. But they did not present any cost estimates, and the city does not have a timeline for starting any construction projects.
The plan examined City Hall, River City Hall, the Carnegie Building, the General Services Building, the Mason Center, the Parks and Recreation Department’s maintenance shops and the Durango Police Station.
The Mason Center and the Parks and Recreation maintenance shops both likely need to be completely replaced, and this construction could be paid for with the 2015 dedicated half-cent sales tax approved in April.
The Mason Center is currently 17,800 square feet, but the city needs a building more than 40,000 square feet to house a gym, classrooms and offices, said Peter Icenogle, vice president of the Blythe Group.
“They really don’t have enough space for all the apparatus. It’s really quite dangerous,” he said.
The consultants recommended constructing a new building on the same site because it could accommodate a bigger building and more parking.
The maintenance shops at Greenmount Cemetery need to be replaced with a building about three times the size of their combined floor space. The Parks and Recreation Department proposed a $2 million new facility last year, but the project was delayed until the master plan could be finished.
Upgrades to the remaining city buildings downtown would likely need to be staggered because changes to one site will affect office space elsewhere.
The police headquarters is the highest priority among these buildings because it is a third of the size it needs to be, and it should have secured parking and secured entrances to help protect the police and the public, Icenogle said.
“Nothing can happen without the police department problem being addressed,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc said.
However, the city doesn’t have a revenue stream to pay for any of these construction projects yet, and it is unlikely work on upgrades would happen in 2016, he said.
The consultants recommended moving the police station to a new site; although they did not list any suggestions. This would allow the city to use the site on East Second Avenue for parking or other administrative offices.
They also suggested rebuilding City Hall at its current location as a two- or three-story building. The proposal could eliminate the need for administrative offices in River City Hall and the Carnegie Building. This could make the city more efficient, and it would allow the city to sell River City Hall to help fund other projects. But such a sale would have to be coordinated with the Durango Fire Protection District, which leases half of the building.
The Carnegie Building could be used as a flexible office space while construction is going on. But the city doesn’t have a plan for the building’s final purpose.
It must be used for a public function as a condition of the deed, and the consultants floated ideas such as a business incubator, arts center or space nonprofits could lease.
The General Services Building does not need to be moved or rebuilt, but it does need more space to house vehicles, such as snowplows, the consultants said.
Councilors did not discuss the new plan at length, but LeBlanc did outline some of the other major multimillion-dollar construction projects the city is planning. Those projects include the sewage-treatment plant, the water-treatment plant and a new airport.
“Our needs may be outstripping our revenue sources,” he said.