Camas OKs $1M to fix up City Hall

Annex building to function as city’s permitting center

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Illustration by LSW Architects, courtesy of city of Camas A design proposal shows what the Camas City Hall Annex building, located on Northeast Fourth Avenue, one block west of the main City Hall building in the former Bank of America space, will contain once renovations are complete. The Annex is expected to become a new permitting center for the city and also provide room for the Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal's office.

Camas city councilors on Monday approved a nearly $1 million contract for the renovation of the Camas City Hall lobby and the new City Hall Annex building.

The bulk of the contract, $561,554, is the estimated cost for transforming the former Bank of America building in downtown Camas into the new City Hall Annex building, which will serve as the city’s permitting center.

The city purchased the 9,000-square-foot former Bank of America property at 528 N.E. Fourth Ave., as well as the site’s 0.46-acre property, for $1.6 million in December 2018, and had budgeted for $400,000 in renovation costs.

In September, the councilors learned from Camas City Administrator Pete Capell that the Annex building renovation costs had more than doubled from the city’s original estimates.

“It was just a very rough estimate,” Capell said of the city’s initial $400,000 estimate for renovating the Annex building.

Costs would have been significantly higher had city administrators not reined in grand plans that included what Capell called “all the things people thought would be valuable at city hall” — a plan that was estimated to cost $5 million.

“We called a time-out and said, ‘Let’s figure out how we can do it much less expensively,'” Capell told the Post-Record in September.

“The early estimates were before we hired an architect,” Capell added. “As soon as we started meeting with the architect, we realized the costs we had were too low. We have scaled back from the original architect’s efforts to get down below $1 million. It should turn into an excellent permit center.”

The contract had been lumped into the Council’s consent agenda, in which city leaders approve a variety of “housekeeping” items with one vote, but City Councilwoman Melissa Smith asked that the item be removed from the consent agenda and tackled separately.

At the end of the Council’s regular meeting on Monday night, Smith questioned a few items in the contract that didn’t seem to be funded and wondered if the city might need to pay more at a later date.

Capell said those items, which included hazardous material identification and testing; security design; detailed heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) load calculations and furniture procurement, were not part of the services requested by the city and were not needed.

“It is my understanding that everything we need for the Annex building and City Hall are inclusive in this,” Capell said.

Smith said she hoped the city would not incur other costs and pointed out language in the contract that states the city would be charged an hourly rate for additional architectural services not included in the nearly $1 million “lump sum” contract cost.

LSW Architects, an established firm that has worked on projects throughout Clark County for more than 60 years and was contracted for the recent Jemtegaard Middle and Columbia River Gorge Elementary school designs in Washougal, submitted a list of hourly fees, which range from $80 for support staff and $150 for a level-two architect to $185 for an associate and $315 for a principal.

“When we bought the (Bank of America) building we went over and were told we had $400,000 left over and now we’re almost at $1 million and that concerns me,” Smith said Monday night, commenting on the fact that the city paid about $100,000 more for the building due to a bidding war with Riverview Bank.

According to the contract, it will take a total of 46 weeks, including 28 weeks for construction, for the entire project to be completed at City Hall and at the City Hall Annex.