Annex Redux – Post Documentation

Ron Bolin: May 17, 2011

  • How many buildings and homes in the city have the same problem???
  • Who is responsible for them???
  • What will the new building actually cost in the end???
  • Where is the value analysis???

While Council seems to have already signed a contract for the construction of a new city hall Annex, it is still worthwhile to examine the information which they have belatedly decided to make public in order to try to find the wisdom of their expenditure of our tax dollars.

Two documents are available on the City’s web site, a brief summary from the Herald Engineering  study (HE) on the building and a News Release (NR): “Answers to questions regarding new City Hall Annex” .  The following observations are taken from them.  Observations have been taken from the Herold Engineering report unless identified in bold by the notation (NR), the News Release.

Background facts and Indications are:

  • “Annex at high risk of structural damage during a significant seismic event.”
  • 1937 – Built as a two storey warehouse
  • 1954 – A single storey addition  to the west elevation
  • ???? – Further addition to the west elevation
  • 1977 – A third storey added with renovations on both interior and exterior
  • 1999 – City purchased building – negligent due diligence apparently performed (NR)
  • Floor space of existing building is @ 3372 sq m (36296 sq ft)
  • Floor space of new annex is 3986 sq m (42,900 sq ft), an 18% increase. (NR)

Estimates of Cost of Seismic Upgrade Options:

  • $4,273,878 – Concrete Stair Core
  • $4,268,742 – Concrete Shear Walls
  • $4,569,276 – Roof Expansion
  • Estimate of @25% in soft costs
  • Total cost between $5.3 and $5.7 million plus the costs of leasing space during renovation


  • 1 year if building was vacated
  • 1.5 years if phased by floor so that lease space requirement was reduced
  • Costs of leasing space during either upgrading or new construction must be identified

Cost of New Building:

  • For a floor area of 3372 meters (same size as current annex) at $3000/m sq. $10,116,000 (HE); [but the new building is said to be 42,900 sq. ft., an increase of about 18% (NR).
  • Upgrade would cost @ 45% of cost of new building in construction costs
  • Lease costs during renovation estimated at $330,000, bringing seismic upgrade costs to @48% of new construction costs
  • Upgrade cost of 48% of new construction cost is below the industry standard of 70% for renovation vs new construction
  • No total cost for the new annex is given in the News Release, but increase in costs since the 2008(?) Herold Engineering report and the 18% increase in building floor space should be noted as well as possible additional costs to construct the building to a “post disaster seismic standard” (NR)
  • Instead of using reserves, the City wants to borrow $4 million in short term borrowing which will raise taxes by 1.1%/year for five years (NR). ( It should be noted that in a “good” year the city takes in more than $4 million in income over expenses.  This money which, in essence, is over-taxation, goes into reserves.)

Report  Conclusions:

  • “When issues such as sustainability, future usage, operational and maintenance costs are considered over the long term (typically 30 years), purchasing a building or constructing a new building may be economic alternatives to upgrading.”
  • “This would require a value analysis done on the various development options available and is outside the scope of the report; however due to the high cost of the upgrades, it is recommended that this be considered.”
  • Public Participation requirements are met by a public Expression of Interest call and subsequent discussions and negotiations with 13 proponents, i.e. developers, building managers, etc. who made up the only Public that mattered (NR).

My Questions:

  • How many buildings and homes in the city have the same problem???
  • Who is responsible for them???
  • What will the new building actually cost in the end???
  • Where is the value analysis???

Welcome, citizens, to the Royal Order of Siam as presented to us by our Council and Staff.

Our municipal motto:  “Owa Tagoo Siam”.    Repeat quickly several times.