Very Much Alive
March 16, 2010 10:17 PM
Reports of the death of the new Central Library are much exaggerated. It's not unusual for a process of negotiation to hit a snag or two. And when it does the thing to do is to have another option available. That's the case with the Central Library discussion going on right now.
At this point, the city and library developer, Fiore/Irgens, are about $2 million apart. We just can't pay Fiore/Irgens' price and deliver the library at the $37 million we promised taxpayers. Simply put, the developer is asking too much.
We're still talking, and my hope is that we can find our way to an agreement. But if we don't, we have a good alternative ready to go. A complete rebuild - really a reimagining - of the current Central Library is more than a viable option. The Villager on South Park Street serves as an excellent example of how the city has successfully taken a tired former bowling alley and turned it into a vibrant neighborhood center with a completely new look. All without tearing down most of the existing structure. And our early estimates are that we could do it for around $10 million less than the Fiore/Irgens project and provide as much or more space for the library. In addition, from an environmental perspective, recycling the existing building's superstructure would be a good thing to do.
What we don't get with this option is the potential for the total block redevelopment that Fiore/Irgens promised. In their latest offer to the City, Fiore/Irgens takes that off the table.
So, on balance, I would still like to find a way to make the Fiore/Irgens project happen. But whichever option we end up with we will have a new Central Library on time and on budget.