South San Francisco officials unveiled a fresh, modern design for the new civic center with hopes of establishing an iconic facility which is both unique but utilitarian.
The city’s Design Review Board as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission gave initial favorable reviews to the new proposal during separate discussions Tuesday, May 21, said Assistant City Manager Marian Lee.
The updated design was called for by officials hoping to construct a signature building after previous plans were deemed inadequate and uninspiring, sending planners back to the drawing board for a more intriguing proposal.
Lee said the most recent designs are much more closely aligned with the expectations of officials planning to finance much of the construction cost with money generated by a sales tax hike.
“This one really hits the signature mark that the council wanted,” she said. “We wanted a good functioning, efficient building, but also wanted something really signature to the city.”
The proposed three-story building will house the Parks and Recreation Department, with the library and shared community space as well as City Council chambers at the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Antoinette Lane. It will be adjacent to a planned new police station, which is also part of the Civic Center campus, plus a new park.
The project is roughly the same size as the previously planned facility, and Lee said officials are hopeful it falls within the $210 million budget, though ultimately construction bids expected next summer will determine the final price tag. The proposal is already projected to cost about $60 million more than was originally expected.
While the size and budget of the project are generally in step with previous plans, the new design marks a significant departure from the earlier drawings.
The most recent renderings display a facility encased in fritted glass featuring transparency control which can be adjusted to serve the different uses throughout the building. For example, Lee said some areas such as the library where readers may appreciate more light could be made brighter than less active portions of the building. Meanwhile, the exterior of the building will be comprised of a steel wrap which Lee said is intended to celebrate South San Francisco’s tradition as the industrial city.
“It’s a very honest building,” said Lee, nodding to the glass and exposed steel elements included in the plans.
She also lauded the commitment by project designers to rework the proposal.
“They understood what they had to do and have really been working around the clock to bring us something we can really be excited about and I think they’ve done a great job,” she said.
She said initial reviews for the most recent building plans were favorable, and the public process will continue next week when the Library Commission and Planning Commission examine the proposal.
Should the favorable feedback continue, Lee said officials are hopeful it will go before the City Council for final approval Wednesday, June 12. Assuming the project timeline stays on track, the police station would go out to bid in the fall and the rest of the campus would follow next summer. Ultimately, Lee said she is hopeful ground will break on the police station in January and work on the rest of the project will start about nine months later.
She noted there is still a long path ahead for the entire project before work begins on time and within budget, but she suggested the most recent design proposal was a significant step in the right direction.
“I think we’ve hit a really good milestone … And we’ll keep chugging forward and making sure everything is within budget,” she said.
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