Eden Prairie City Council members have been told to prepare for much higher construction costs to replace a 40-year-old, cement-block warming house and multi-use building at Round Lake Park.
A project the city thought would cost $1.25 million two years ago may cost as much as $2.1 million, Parks Director Jay Lotthammer told the council Tuesday evening, Jan. 18, although the city won’t know for sure until construction bids are reviewed in several months.
Construction costs across the Twin Cities and the country, for that matter, have gone up sharply for a variety of reasons, including labor shortages and supply-chain issues. A construction-cost index regularly provided by Mortenson Construction, for example, shows that construction costs in the Twin Cities area rose 20.3 percent between the third quarter of 2020 and the same quarter in 2021.
Lotthammer said delaying the project is unlikely to reduce the cost. He also encouraged the council to look at the project as a 30-year investment.
If the city does proceed with the project, said Lotthammer and City Manager Rick Getschow, it’s likely that cash park fees – the fees that developers pay the city so that parks can accommodate a growing number of residents – could fill the gap between the 2-year-old earmark for this project in the city’s capital-improvement plan and the new, higher construction cost. (Liquor store profits are a dedicated funding source for the 10-year capital-improvement plan.)
At the same time, said Getschow, the city’s capital-improvement fund has grown more than anticipated. He said it’s “a really positive funding scenario, even with the price increase.”
The current building, built in 1981 and opened in ’82, isn’t used for much more than a seasonal warming house for nearby skating rinks, said Lotthammer. Demolishing the building and constructing one along the lines of the newer building at Staring Lake Park, which cost about $1.4 million, would allow year-round rentals while maintaining its warming-house and bathroom uses.
The design is only conceptual at this point, but its roof might include solar panels in one area and short sedge grasses in another to make it more environmentally-friendly. High-efficiency heating and cooling systems may also be part of the design, as may nearby electric-vehicle charging stations. Lotthammer said some of the features would be labeled as “alternates” in the bidding process so that the city could pick and choose features depending on price.
The “community room” portion of the building could hold about 50 people. Lotthammer said it would meet a growing need for more rental space offered by the city, adding to rental space existing at Staring Lake Park, Riley Lake Park, Homeward Hills Park, and elsewhere.
Council member Mark Freiberg asked if the existing building could be remodeled, but city staff said that’s probably not a good option. “This is a perfect example of what you would ‘doze and start new,” said Lotthammer.
He said it’s important to note that much more would go into this 3,600-square-foot building than a house of about the same size, including more durable construction materials and items that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to name a few.
The city council suggested that staff move ahead with plans, at least for now. A council decision on whether to proceed with construction isn’t expected until March or April.
Editor’s note: Mark Weber is executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation. Jay Lotthammer and Mark Freiberg, mentioned in this story, are Foundation board members.
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