Following interviews with three firms last month, the New Canaan Town Hall Building Committee III has selected the McCloud Group to manage the estimated $14 million Town Hall renovation and expansion project.
During Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting at Police Headquarters, Mike Avgerinos, chairman of the Town Hall Building Committee, said the Bridgeport-based firm was selected because of its core focus on construction management.
"Other firms — general contractors and builders — might do management on the side," Avgerinos said, "but with the McCloud Group, it's their real job..."
Avgerinos said the cost of the three bids received "was not an issue because they were all within $4,000 to $5,000 [of each other]."
The Board of Selectmen approved a contract under which the town will hire McCloud Group for $95,773, plus $1,000 for expenses, to manage the Demolition and Abatement phase of the project (these funds have already been approved); $37,518, plus $1,000 for expenses, to manage the Schematic Design phase (these funds must still be approved by the Board of Finance); and $25,013, plus $1,000 for expenses, to manage the Design Development and Construction phase (also subject to approval by the Board of Finance).
In addition the selectmen's approval of the $161,304 contract is contingent on a review by the town's attorney.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said McCloud Group comes highly recommended by the Town of Greenwich, which has used the firm to manage several school construction projects.
Avgerinos said the committee hopes to start demolition of the 10,000 square foot auditorium wing at the rear of the current Town Hall in March, with new construction to start by July.
The wing will be replaced with a new, 20,000 square foot addition that will include a smaller auditorium and various administrative offices and meeting rooms.
The rest of the facility will be gutted and interior spaces will be reconfigured to make it more functional and efficient, as well as code compliant.
The facade of the original 1909 building which faces Main Street will be fully preserved. In addition certain historical elements or materials — such as the the marble flooring and murals in the auditorium — will be either reused or recreated in the new facility.
Avgerinos said the building committee is working closely with the town Historical Society to identify which historical elements should be preserved — and how. He said the Historical Society plans to apply to have the original building listed on the National Register of Historic Places following renovation.
As such Avgerinos said the Historical Society is hiring a photographer to take photos of the interior of the building as it currently exists, as part of the application process. He said the photographer will be given until the end of December to take photos of the facility in its current state before some materials are removed and predemolition work begins.
It is still not clear what impact the preservation of historical elements might have on the project budget, he said, adding that the committee is mainly focused on budget and schedule.
Avgerinos said starting new construction in July will help ensure that workers have an enclosed area to work in by winter.
The first phase of the demolition, he said, will involve opening the walls in both sections of the building, so construction workers can see what's inside before proceeding.
Meanwhile architectural firm , is expected to have final designs ready by June, Avgerinos said.
He said the firm will present two to three options for the design of the new building, which the public will have the opportunity to weigh-in on via public hearings before a final design is selected.
Selectman Nick Williams says there's been plenty of opportunity for public feedback on the project, as it has been in the planning stages for a number of years and has passed through several boards, commissions and long range planning committees.
"At the end of the day we know that not everybody is going to agree that this is a perfect town hall — we know the nature of human beings," Williams said. "However I am very confident that the final result will be something that the vast majority of the residents of this town will like..."
Avgerinos said he "unofficially" met with several "important" architects from town to get their opinion — "and each one agreed with our direction."
Meanwhile the original building has been vacated and all Town Hall departments have been temporarily relocated to alternate facilities — with the exception of the IT department, which remains in the old building but will soon be relocated to a room at Waveny House.
Moving the IT department, however, will require some electrical work at Waveny in order to accommodate the equipment. To that end the Board of Selectmen approved an appropriation of $9,600 for installation of new electric in the room where the IT Department will be located. This funding will come from special account the town established to handle relocation costs associated with the project.
The Town Hall renovation and expansion project, initial funding for which was approved earlier this year, will enable to the town to bring its satellite offices at Irwin Park and Vine Cottage back to the Town Hall facility.
The need for renovating the building was discussed by town officials as far back as 15 years ago — and planning for the current project is now in its fourth year.