Costs estimates for the new Crown Community Center rose again this week to $52.9 million.

Price estimates for the project had ranged from $20 million to $55 million six years ago when the city was considering proposals from private firms to build and operate the facility.

After the city rejected those proposals, it explored renovating the existing building at a cost of around $17 million — but eventually rejected that plan in favor of seeking private donations to partially fund a new building that would be owned and operated by the city.

Cost estimates for the city-owned building, initially pegged at around $40 million, hit $46 million last fall as the city worked with its architect and construction management firm to refine cost estimates.

City officials this week said factors leading to the latest cost estimate included:

  • Discovery of poor soils at the site requiring installation of deep foundations and a structural slab, rather than the previously planned standard footings and slab on grade, for an extra $1.5 million in costs.
  • Addition of public art to the project, to comply with the city’s 1 percent for art ordinance, with a projected cost of $400,000.
  • Contingency cost increases based on discussion with the project construction manager, $1.4 million.
  • Steel price increases, $500,000.
  • More detailed development of the construction documents, $600,000.

Lara Biggs, of the city’s Public Works Agency, said the city plans to award a guaranteed maxium price contract for construction of the center to Bulley & Andrews, the firm now performing pre-construction services for the project.

She said that contract format will speed construction and limit risk.

It would include contingency amounts to address fluctuations in bid prices and design decisions.

Any remaining contingency funds would be returned to the city at the end of the contract.

Project goals including having 15 percent of all construction trade hours worked on site performed by Evanston residents and having a quarter of all work done by minority, women-owned or Evanston-based businesses.

The new center will have two ice rinks, a gymnasium, a branch library and other facilities.

Pete Giangrecco, from Friends of Robert Crown, the group doing private fundraising for the project, said the group has raised almost $11 million in cash and pledges and hopes to hit a new target of $15 million by the end of the year.

The city now anticipates having to issue $22.5 million in 25-year bonds for the project this year and an additional $20 million in 2019.

By the time the bonds are fully paid off in 2044, the cost of the borrowing would total $71.8 million.

The city hopes to award the construction contract for the project next month and begin construction this summer, with the new building scheduled to open in Fall 2019.

The existing building would then be demolished and new artificial-turf fields and other site work would get underway, with the fields scheduled to open in July 2020.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Where did this come from ?

    The article says “Addition of public art to the project, to comply with the city’s 1 percent for art ordinance, with a projected cost of $400,000”

    Who passed this ? Did taxpayers get to approve it  ?

    This sounds like some Governor Thompson would have done e.g. State of Illinois building, art gifts to him if anyone wanted his help.

    Have we not already spent enough of the Arts Center(s), theaters, favors like the bad deal on the Mansion ? Exhibits at the library ?No, those who fancy themselves art savants always want more. Mean while the taxpayers get soaked ?

    What about  1% for science exhibits ?

    We will be lucky if the Crown comes in for less $80 million ! Are all the promised donations sitting in the bank ? What about the other community centers ? Given the Councils largess, the residents of those centers are probably salivating for what they will get next.

  2. Since when…
    ..does the city award no-bid construction contracts for anything, let alone $53,000,000 project? This will set a precedent for no-bid government purchasing. The city engineer doesn’t understand that you can’t award a Guaranteed Maximum Price contact. If you don’t have a finished set of drawings. Under current approach, this project cost will continue to escalate in leaps and bounds. Certainly more than $60,000,000.

    1. $65,000,000

      Civic Center workers know the Crown construction bill hovers at $65,000,000. This sum is overtly talked about in manager meetings.

      1. real costs
        yep…..the managers hear all the “real” stuff. Other employees and the public hear only what Wally wants them to hear. Isn’t that fact obvious yet????

  3. Crown project
    The crown project should be dropped. We need money for other important things such as infrastructure etc. And our Taxes. are way to HIGH.

  4. TWO Ice Rinks for a Broke City
    For our broke city, TWO ice rinks and more public art? Perhaps you can plan more cumbersome bike lanes, curb cuts and dead-end streets around the area for added impact. In all seriousness, just rehab the existing place. Way to squander tens of millions!

    1. Crown Costs
      How much does it cost to build a white elephant? …and then MAINTAIN it? The millions already collected (or, supposedly promised) would more than make a rehab worthwhile. And a library in a recreation center? “Somebody” is letting things run out of hand, and letting an overpaid library director make bad decisions. …wait and see. This is going to be a financial fiasco for all those involved, except for the “Friends” group who are a lot of well-to-do hockey people. I would highly doubt that the general public wants or agrees to having this built. MOST residents do not use this center, and do not ice skate. Fix up what we have to make it doable. Just my opinion……

  5. Great job, guys
    Either our leaders are incompetent or have been lying about this project. Evanston will either be bankrupt or the taxes will be so high as to be too expensive to live for most of us. And all of this so some kids can play hockey. I don’t care what else is in there, all of the services (other than the ice) could be provided in facilities that cost less than this Taj Mahal.

    1. Taj Mahal for sure
      You’re correct on both counts…..AND, Evanston already provides a main library and branches..(and why is that even happening?) Skokie and Wilmette have their own preschool buildings…and one library each. what’s going to happen when hocky dies down? Public skating and figure skating already have thinned out plenty. The maintenance alone on this monstrocity is going to be huge…..Hopefully, it will be outsourced to assure that things actually get cleaned..(new concept). Things are certainly out of control here, so it seems. Same old, same old……and you can believe that our taxes WILL go up, but the lead people in all of this don’t care, because they have large salaries to begin with. They’re just trying to make points with some people, so they can say what a great job they did…..Only the very well-off will be applauding this.

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