by Nan Royce
Following three years’ worth of planning, grant-writing, budgeting, and revising by city staff and Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. (SEH), the Howard Lake City Council approved the preliminary design specifications and preliminary cost estimates for the historic city hall preservation project at its Tuesday evening meeting.
Bringing the building back to life
SEH Project Architect Patrick Bougie presented detailed and updated plans for the building, which was constructed in 1904.
The first floor would be remodeled into an open space design, allowing the city’s municipal liquor store to expand from about 700 square feet to approximately 1,600 square feet.
The second floor will be renovated to meet the exacting standards of the Minnesota Historical Society, from which grant funds have been requested.
Renovations to the second floor include the construction of handicap-accessible bathrooms. The large open space will receive new wainscoting, plaster repair, the exposure of original arches, refinishing of the floor, and creation of a pre-function space for food preparation and service. The plans do allow for an entry/egress for users of the second floor.
Occupancy totals for the second floor vary based on the kind of tables to be used. With circular tables, the space should seat approximately 170 people; using rectangular tables should allow up to 250 people to be seated.
The exterior of the building will be renovated to look as close to the 1904 building as possible.
Changes will include historically-accurate windows, accents, and doors. The south door, on the Hwy. 12 side of the structure, will be replaced with a historically-correct door that will lead to the second floor.
The handicap-accessible ramp will be moved to the east side of the building. A stamped patio will be installed on the east end parking lot, so visitors may enjoy the lake view. The existing deck will be removed.
A two-stop elevator will be installed on the north side of the building. (There is not enough clearance to install a three-stop elevator to reach the building’s basement; also each additional elevator stop adds $20,000 to $30,000 to the cost.)
“The elevator is basically a stand-alone structure,” City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller said. “It’s safer, cheaper, and easier to do.”
Bougie explained the elevator would not be physically connected to the historic city hall building itself, but rather separated from it by a “hyphen.” An architectural hyphen in the historic city hall project will consist of a metal strip running between the elevator and the building. Adding the elevator in this way does not put any extra weight on the building structure itself.
Haggenmiller offered kudos to Bougie, thanking him for his dedication to the project.
“You’ve really got a jewel here,” Bougie replied. “I’m glad to help to do something to save it.”
The price tag
SEH Project Director and Finance Advisor Heidi Peper helped the council understand the potential funding plans for the renovation.
Peper indicated the first-floor’s renovations would be the city’s responsibility, and were estimated to cost $82,568.
In the best-case scenario, renovations for the second floor would be paid for by a Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) grant of $284,544, and a small cities grant of $355,000, with the city kicking in $215,693.
Bidding and construction administration adds $32,400 to the city’s portion of the bill.
It will not be known until November at the earliest if the MHS grant funds have been approved.
The estimated total for the project is $970,205.
Assuming the project receives the MHS grant, total cost responsibility breaks down to the MHS grant picking up $284,544, the small cities grant of $355,000, and the city-responsible total of $330,661.
They city-funded portions of the renovation will consist of monies from the following sources:
• Voyager Revolving Load Fund $160,000;
• LMCIT Insurance Settlement (for damage to the roof of the building) $25,000;
• the Howard Lake Historical Society $2,500; and
• Howard Lake’s Capital Fund/General Fund Reserves $145,000.
Councilor Gene Gilbert wanted to be on record as the person who made the motion to approve the preliminary design and preliminary cost estimates for the historic city hall preservation project. Councilor Al Munson seconded the motion.
Gilbert, Munson, Councilor Tom Kutz, and Mayor Pete Zimmerman voted in favor of the motion. Councilor Mike Mitchell was opposed.
Action on Imhoff
Assistant City Administrator Aurora Yager presented a proposal from Bolten and Menk to complete a reclaim, overlay, and trail construction project on Imhoff Avenue, at an estimated cost of $416,000.
City Engineer Sheila Krohse felt the expenditure was warranted at this time. “This is the area of the highest need, without factoring in areas that need utilities,” she said.
Kutz made a motion to order plans and specifications for Imhoff Avenue; Gilbert seconded. Kutz, Gilbert, Mitchell, and Zimmerman voted in favor; Munson was opposed.
Down on the corner
Yager also presented a proposal for the demolition of the former Kadlec property at 624 6th St. Carlson Construction submitted the lowest project bid of $16,750.
Yager indicated that an adhoc committee of American Legion members and city staff had been meeting to discuss cost sharing for the parking lot that will be built on the former Kadlec lot, which adjoins the Legion’s parking lot.
“It was thought best for the city to coordinate the entire project, but for the Legion to pay for the share of improvements occurring on their property,” Yager stated.
She indicated both parties agreed that a more formal agreement was necessary to clarify the cost share amount and process, as well as to outline future maintenance responsibilities.
Kutz made a motion to approve the $16,750 bid for demolition of the building at 624 6th St. The motion passed.