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Phoenix gets $13.6 million from state for multi-use public building

Phoenix City Hall

The city of Phoenix has been awarded $13.6 million by the state Legislature to construct a multi-story building of 24,000 square feet that will house city hall, the police department and Jackson County Fire District No. 5.

The building will replace separate structures that include modular fire crew quarters damaged by the Almeda fire, a four-bay fire equipment building, a double-wide trailer that houses the police department and a former library that serves as city hall.

“It’s a genuine win for supporting public safety in Phoenix. The police station is long overdue,” said City Manager Eric Swanson. He stressed that the effort was a collaboration that came together after the Almeda fire, with District 5 and firms that previously did facilities studies, engineering or construction work for the city and the district joining in.

“The intent is to stay on the existing footprint and just group things together rather than running three separate projects. Those cost way too much,” said fire district Chief Charles Hanley. The district leased the fire facilities from the city for $1 per year.

A capital funding project information sheet showed that the fire station would occupy 8,682 square feet; the police station would be 6,910 square feet; city hall would cover 3,696 square feet, and circulation/support/tech services portion would total 4,588 square feet. Building costs were estimated at $8,063,205.

Site development is put at $929,424, with the largest expense being $150,000 for an emergency generator. Total hard costs are $8,992,629.

Another $4,851,000 was requested for expenses outside hard costs, including 20% for a $1,798,526 contingency fund and 6% to cover cost escalation projected at $767,622 by the second quarter of 2022.

A proposed timeline calls for design to be completed by April 2022, followed by bidding and permitting. Construction is scheduled for mid-June 2022 through July 2023.

“There’s going to be a public process. There’s going to be neighbors affected. We want to be a good neighbor,” said Swanson. As the city gets closer to design and construction, the community, firefighters and police officers will be brought in to consult on the building, which will be a work center for the next 50 years, he said.

“The bottom line is we are moving forward with that number. The sooner the better. Costs are escalating. We don’t know what they will be as far as labor and materials,” said Swanson. “The idea is to keep it local as much as we can and make sure to employ local people to do the project.”

Swanson and Hanley commended efforts by District 5 state Rep. Pam Marsh and District 3 state Sen. Jeff Golden in working with the Legislature to obtain the support.

“They put together a really good proposal. They told us exactly what they needed. It made sense and had a good budget. The presentation was very persuasive,” said Marsh. “We know how modest the current facilities are. I described what the evidence closet looked like in the double wide.”

Marsh said she attempted to get money for better police facilities two years ago but was unsuccessful at the time. She said there was a lot of opportunity for infrastructure upgrades this session due to availability of federal funds.

Rogue Credit Union provided financial assistance to help prepare the proposal that was presented to the Legislature. Soderstrom Architects did the district study, ORW Architecture did the city study, and HMK Construction and engineering firm ZCS participated in the preparation.

During a fire career in California, Hanley said he always worked out of buildings that housed multiple public departments. Swanson oversaw construction of a combined police and fire building in Roseburg when he was city manager there.

District 5 will have four to six firefighters at the Phoenix site with a mix of apprentices, students and veterans, Hanley said. The district’s main station is located just north of Talent.

Phoenix’s award is part of $600 million approved by the Legislature for wildlife recovery and prevention in the session that ended Saturday. The Phoenix money will come from lottery bonds. As a match the city will contribute $175,000 from FEMA and another $65,000 in insurance proceeds received for the fire damage.

“I think it’s really going to help with establishing a service core in downtown. It’s in proximity to the Civic Center,” said Swanson. The new building will serve what should be an expanding population as the city looks at annexation of two land areas to the north into its limits, he said.

Developers are looking at investments in the downtown area, including on Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency land surrounding the Civic Center, Swanson said.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.