To:                   Mayor and Town Council


FROM:            W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager


SUBJECT:       Town Operations Center Draft Conceptual Plan and Preliminary Cost Projections


DATE:             June 23, 2003



The following memorandum provides a discussion of the draft conceptual plan and preliminary cost projections for the Town Operations Center.




The draft conceptual plan of the Town Operations Center is based on a projection of Town operational needs over the next 30 years.  The Council is requested to consider the material and provide guidance to the Town Manager which could be followed in the preparation of revised plans and cost estimates for presentation at the Council’s August 25 meeting.


For planning purposes we have used a rough estimated cost of about $30 million for construction of the Public Works and Transit facilities.  The preliminary estimate by the architect and engineers now is available: it totals $37 million for construction of the two facilities, and other costs are estimated to be $14 million.


Now that that we have a systematic estimate, we can work with our design team and value engineers to explore as many approaches to cost reduction as can be identified. We will begin by reducing the size of the buildings to eliminate space that is not essential to meet needs beyond the first decade of occupancy.


Comments from the Planning Board, Transportation Board and Community Design Commission’s courtesy reviews of the conceptual plan will be transmitted separately.


Please bring the drawings distributed on June 12 of the site analysis and the May 23 Draft Concept Plan.




The Public Works and Transportation Departments are located on the Horace Williams Tract, on land leased from the University of North Carolina.  The term of the lease expires on December 31, 2006, and will not be renewed.


In 2001 and 2002 the Town acquired about 74 acres of land for the Town Operations Center located on Millhouse Road, north of Eubanks Road, between I-40 and the railroad.  On April 14, 2003, the Council approved the acquisition of another 13 acres contiguous to the initial site.  The Public Works and Transportation Departments and the Housing Maintenance Division will be located there, as well as another department, possibly Engineering, currently housed in Town Hall.


In December, 2002, the Council approved the contract with Corley Redfoot Zack for the development of a site analysis, needs assessment, concept plan and preliminary cost projection.  At that time, the Council also approved a design process and schedule, and established the ad hoc Town Operations Center Design Advisory Committee.  The Committee includes several neighbors of the site, and representatives of the Planning and Transportation Boards, Community Design Commission, Public Arts Commission, the University and the Town of Carrboro.


The needs assessment involved questionnaires completed by almost all employees of the departments mentioned above, interviews on-site with many employees, and the development of a book of design criteria.  The site analysis was completed and presented to the ad hoc Design Advisory Committee in February and then expanded in April and May to include the additional land.  Draft concept plans were completed in March and then again in May, including the additional land. 


The conceptual plan was developed during two 4-day intensive design workshops that included participation from the staff working group, all employees who chose to visit the consultants working in a Public Works conference room and two staff people from NC DOT.  The expanded site analysis and draft conceptual plan were presented to the Design Advisory Committee in May, and to the Planning and Transportation Boards and Community Design Commission in June.  Notices were sent to owners of land within 1000 feet of the site inviting them to participate in the last three meetings and tonight’s Council meeting.


The preliminary cost estimates were prepared once the draft concept plan and traffic impact study were completed and have just become available.




The attached memorandum discusses in some detail the draft concept plan.  We believe that the draft concept plan honors the Council’s key values of environmental sensitivity, sustainable development and fiscal prudence, while also meeting the operational requirements of the functions to be housed on the site. 


We emphasize that this concept plan is general in nature; considerably more work is needed before it will be ready for a Special Use Permit application.  And, more work is needed before it will be refined enough to support accurate cost estimates.  Nevertheless, it is necessary to begin to establish a budget and to develop the financing needed.  Out of necessity, we have used a figure of about $30 million as a possible cost, but have qualified such use consistently to remind people that we had not made a cost estimate or a budget.  Now we have the information from which we can begin to develop a budget.


Our consulting team, which includes cost estimation specialists, have worked together to produce a preliminary realistic, but general cost projection for the entire project.  The projection includes not only construction, but also the costs of:


The projections are general, because the design is still in the conceptual stage.  As the design is refined, the cost estimates will be refined. Grading and stormwater management plans are a little more detailed than are building plans now.  The lists of major equipment that will be needed and cannot be moved from the present facility have also been developed.  Only general allowances are used for furniture and fixtures in the buildings and will be refined when it is determined exactly how much can be moved from the present facility.  We have assumed the use of permeable concrete in parking areas for autos and day lighting for the buildings.  As the design proceeds, we would identify and include other elements of “green building” as identified in the Triangle J Public Facilities High Performance Guidelines.


The numbers below include a construction contingency of 10% for site work and 5% for buildings. They also include an inflation factor of 6%, because it will be  well over a year before construction starts and over 3 years before it is finished .  There is no contingency  for project elements not yet identified. A factor of 10% is included for service costs, such as design, value engineering, testing and similar services.


The cost of a day care center is listed, although it is not based on a program. We have reviewed the costs experienced by Carol Woods, which opened its day care center last August, and have assumed a somewhat smaller and less expensive building.   If the Council wishes to consider including a day care center on the site, we recommend that the Council instruct the staff to report back after the summer with better cost estimates for the building and a discussion of some of the policy issues involved.




Construction                                                                 $37,108,674

Equipment                                                                        4,665,826

Off-site (utilities, road and signals, demolition)       3,477,680

            Subtotal                                                            $45,252,180               

10%  design, value engineering, testing                 4,525,218

            Subtotal                                                            $49,777,398

1% for Art                                                                           497,773

            Subtotal                                                            $50,275,171

Relocating existing furniture and equipment                           200,000

            Subtotal                                                            $50,475,171

Day Care Center                                                              1,200,000

            Total                                                                $51,675,171


On June 9, the Council decided to use Certificates of Participation, a form of debt that can carry both short-term and long-term maturities, to finance the portion of the project costs that cannot be covered by federal and state grant funds.


We believe that $19,775,000 of the total costs can be attributed to the transit operation.  Federal and state grants may be available for up to 90% of this sum, or $17,797,500.


We believe that arrangements are in place for $9 million from the NC TIP and Surface Transportation Act/Direct Allocation to be made available from 2003-04 through 2005-06, although it is not finally approved at this point. We are hopeful that additional funding from NC Moving Ahead! and from unspent 2002-03 state funds might also become available in the next few months. Finally, we anticipate that funding may be earmarked for this project in the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, perhaps over a period of up to six years, and that we would know the amount and timing later in the calendar year.


We believe that we would probably need to provide short-term financing until some of the grants are available.  Federal officials have advised that it is possible to use federal grants to reimburse the Town for money already spent on an approved project. State officials have repeatedly stated that the Chapel Hill Transit maintenance and operations facility is NC DOT’s highest priority capital project.


Acquisition of the site has cost a total of $1,475,000, which has or will be financed with 10-year installment financing and $265,000 from the Transportation Capital Reserve Fund




We recommend that the Council review the conceptual plans in the light of the preliminary cost figures now available, and provide guidance as we refine and revise the plans.  Our intent would be to work with our consultants and value engineers to identify ways to reduce costs, through deleting parts of the program, changing materials and construction methods and refining cost estimates. 


Between now and when we report back to the Council on August 25, we will be working to address your comments regarding building and site development and cost projections.




1.      June 9, 2003, Memorandum from Michael L. Hammersley, Town Operations Center Conceptual Plans (p. 5).

2.      Drawings: Revised Phase I Submittal – May 18, 2003 (p. 10).

3.      Drawings: Draft Overall Concept Plan May 23, 2003 (p. 20).

Additional Information