Upper Arlington Community Center designs changed amid rising project costs
Upper Arlington leaders are discussing revisions to designs for the city’s first community center as the price of the project has risen again.
When city officials asked voters in May 2021 if they supported building a community center without raising taxes, they estimated the project would cost about $55 million.
in February, city officials and the design team said the size and scope of the project pushed the price to around $69.1 million.
Now, with inflation and global supply chain issues affecting the prices of most goods and services, the facility to be built at Kingsdale Shopping Center is expected to cost nearly $85 million after revised plans cut the cost of 99 million dollars.
Despite the jump, City Manager Steve Schoeny isn’t in sticker shock, saying the city has the resources to cover the rising costs.
Additionally, he said it is an investment that the majority of the community wants, as evidenced by approximately 80% of voters who, in May 2021, voted in favor of the city building a community.
“The city has been running surpluses for years and we plan to manage our finances very conservatively with the goal of making big investments,” Schoeny said. “When we voted, 80% of the community said this was the big investment they wanted us to make.
“It does not preclude our sustainable sewer solutions program from continuing. It does not preclude our street maintenance program. be our next big investment.”
Schoeny said the city can build the community center with a combination of about $14 million in city cash, $50.5 million in municipal bonds, $8 million in private funds and revenue that the city will receive community center tenants like the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The city and its design team shared revised plans for the community center at a June 13 city council meeting.
“It went over budget,” said Keith Hall, general manager of MSA Sport’s Columbus Studio. “The market is very volatile right now.
“But we really haven’t lost any core elements of that (original community center design).”
Hall said his team removed a stairwell from the project, which provided more space for programming within the community center.
This resulted in the relocation of some program spaces from the original plan’s fifth and sixth floors to lower levels, including the mezzanine, which now requires expanded fitness areas and two “large group exercise rooms”, Hall said.
A teen tech zone was moved from the mezzanine to the fourth floor, and an originally planned group exercise space on the second floor was split into two smaller group exercise spaces.
Original plans for the facility called for the OSU Wexner to occupy most or all of the fourth floor.
“Now we have the main gym on this (fourth) floor with a teen area of tech play and then open play,” Hall said. “So pool tables, ping-pong tables and that sort of thing.
“It will be a multi-generational floor. This interaction will be very, very positive.”
On the fifth floor, designs previously called for a gym, a multi-purpose room and a demonstration kitchen to be used for cooking classes.
In addition to the move of the gymnasium to the fourth floor, the demonstration kitchen is removed.
The center track, which will be eight laps to a mile, has been moved from the sixth floor to the fifth.
The sixth floor will still have a penthouse but will not be considered an occupied floor, Hall said.
“It’s a mechanical space,” he said.
Schoeny said city leaders and the design team would continue to seek public input from residents on whether planned underground parking would be the best way to provide access to the facility for people with reduced mobility.
“As we look at the layout of this garage, there are significant challenges in making it a space that people can access,” he said. “We think it’s the right thing to do to ask seniors if it’s a good solution.”
Additionally, the design team is still working with city officials to determine materials for the exterior.
He said options include using terracotta, clay-fired bricks or glass curtain walls which are lightweight aluminum-framed facades housing glass or metal panels.
The terra cotta materials are expected to cost about $300,000 more than the glass curtain wall, Hall said.
“In the grand scheme of things, we don’t see that number as the primary driver,” Hall said. “The curtain wall will bring a heavier heating and cooling load to the building simply by the nature of the glass in it.”
In addition to holding in-person meetings and gathering feedback on parking for the project on June 27 and 29, the city and its design team plan to hold a community meeting in August.
“We can make these numbers work,” Schoeny said. “So we go into these discussions about the right way to make this building accessible knowing that we can make these numbers work.”