New Canaan Finance Board shocked by price of new police building

NEW CANAAN — The total price tag for the proposed new police department headquarters is rising, and some city officials are a little surprised.

Finance Council members listened to construction plans on Tuesday with an important additional note that the project would total at least $5 million more than the last estimate of $20.2 million.

The new range indicated a low estimate of $25.6 million and a high estimate of $28.5 million for a renovated 32,000 square foot building, as presented by the police building committee. The new plans call for retaining much of the 96-year-old building’s shell, tearing down the older, earlier edition and replacing it with a new section.

Chairman Todd Lavieri noted that since the construction committee was established in November 2020, the first estimate was $17 million. Then it was increased to $21 million. Now the total could reach just under $30 million.

“We were all thinking mentally in our teens and now we’re almost at $30 million, so you can kind of understand the shock of the stickers,” Lavieri said.

The new addition represents about 25% of the completed space and is accused of inflating the price. After a preliminary design, the construction committee realized that “the back of it is kind of a disaster and it doesn’t work very well, so we went back to the architect and removed him some of the constraints,” building committee member Amy Murphy Carroll said.

The committee is expected to return in August with a request for $1.1 million to create new building models, which should yield more definitive prices.

Brian Humes, owner of Jacunski Humes Architects, the firm chosen for the project earlier this month, explained the benefits of the new plan. The company also led police building construction projects in Wilton, Weston, Monroe, Stamford, Darien and Bethel.

One of the improvements would be the addition of a sallyport, the bay where an individual in custody is brought to the station in the police cruiser. The current building has a sallyport which Humes says is very undersized, only suitable for one vehicle and has height restrictions.

The revised scheme provides for two sallyports, which are designed to accommodate ambulances and other emergency vehicles sometimes needed to transport people into custody. There will also be three bays for storage, instead of two, which can be used for processing vehicles, loose evidence, found goods, and department equipment.

Humes expects the new plans to improve efficiency and safety when processing prisoners.

“For me, officer safety is paramount,” he said. “Accidents mainly occur in areas where prisoners are processed, held or transported. We need to look for a facility that provides as much security as possible for officers. »

Since the addition will actually make the footprint smaller than the current building, the architects will be able to reconfigure the site plan, which will improve the flow of vehicles into and out of the property. The site plan is being evaluated and should improve the movement of police, emergency medical services, school apartments and child care on the property, Humes said.

The new plan would allow the department to have related functions adjacent to each other, such as having the expanded locker rooms next to the physical training room. The addition will also be built to current codes, improving energy efficiency.

Explaining the inflated price, members of the construction committee compared the new project with the renovation of the city hall, comparing the construction costs.

The City Hall was renovated from 2013 to 2015 and is considered a comparable project since both feature the preservation of the building’s historic elements while adding infrastructure. City Hall is 35,000 square feet in size with an addition of 10,000 square feet. The new police building will be 32,000 square feet with a 25% addition of the new facility.

Building committee chairman Bill Walberg said construction costs had risen 43% since 2014, according to an analysis he carried out using the Turner Index of non-residential construction. The City Hall project, which cost $18 million nearly a decade ago, would be closer to $26 million if done today, he projected.