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UPlace to award contract to finish transit garage

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Dec. 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm with No Comments »
December 29, 2010 6:50 pm

The University Place City Council is scheduled Thursday night to award the construction contract to complete the underground parking garage that serves the new civic building within the Town Center mixed-use development.

The project has some urgency to it as the city has committed to have 80 parking stalls ready for use when the new public library opens Feb. 12. The library is located in the civic building.

The board of trustees for the Pierce County Library System had expressed concerns about the parking situation when city officials told them earlier this month there would be fewer stalls available when the library opens then the city and library system agreed to in the library’s development agreement.

City Engineer Jack Ecklund said the construction contract being finalized requires 80 parking stalls are ready for use by Feb. 11, the day before the library’s grand opening. They would be located on the second floor of the three-floor garage.

“It’s not going to necessarily be a cakewalk for them to meet the deadline,” he said, adding it was doable.

Ecklund said the city couldn’t award the construction contract to finish the project until the second phase of the three-phase project was wrapping up.

Without unavoidable delays, all 270 parking stalls are scheduled for completion at the end of May. Half of the stalls will be reserved for park-and-ride.

City officials were still reviewing bids. Ecklund said the low bids were within the phase’s $918,000 budget and the contractor would not be Tacoma-based Pease and Sons Inc., the general contractor completing the first two phases of the garage.

The City Council will award the construction contract at a brief special meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.

The first phase of construction built the garage’s shell. The subsequent phase completed the driveway, retaining walls, mechanical systems and fire sprinkler lines.

The project being awarded includes painting and striping, installing the security system, and building stairways on two ends of the garage. It also features installation of six charging stations for electric vehicles and several bike lockers.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded nearly $3 million to the city for construction of the garage’s first phase.

The federal agency awarded a nearly $800,000 grant for the Phase II improvements. There was no local match.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded the grant for Phase III improvements. The city paid $183,750 as the local match.

The city is financing construction of additional parking stalls on two neighboring lots, although those improvements are merged with the grant-funded piece to create one massive garage.

The city has completed the shells for the improvements on Lots 8 (about 175 stalls) and 10 (about 100 stalls), located to the north and south of the civic building.

The interior work on the neighboring lots is on hold and will be funded either through sales of the developable lots or another bond sale.

When finished, there will be a total of 554 parking stalls.

“We won’t be committing those funds until we have the need for the parking there,” Ecklund said.

The library and Applebee’s are the only announced tenants for Town Center, a long-delayed project intended to build the young suburban city’s tax base, provide residents an activity center and absorb some of its future growth. Applebee’s is expected to open next year.

The city is at a debt limit, and it can’t borrow any more money without voter approval for the near term.

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