Tuesday, February 13, 2007

now that the bids are in, a few considerations

Last week, the Business Journal reported that six companies submitted bids to build the Youngstown Technology Center downtown. The building, which is slated to open by December 2007 will house companies that are looking for room to expand from the current solitary Youngstown Business Incubator building. As this second building is built, the renovation of buildings three and four for the complex is anticipated to begin.

The bids received ranged in cost from...
$4,549,000
$4,800,000
$5,013,000
$5,135,911
$5,962,145
$6,198,500

Indicating there is a gap of about $1.5 million between the highest and lowest bid.

Let's hope the final choice incorporates not just the lowest cost, but also good design.

- - -

Sure, cost is important. In fact, it's very important.

But looks are important as well.

I try to host architects and city planners in downtown youngstown on a fairly regular basis.

To borrow a line from the Princess Bride, when they see the design of the Childrens' Services Building, they claim: "Dear God, what is that thing?"


Maybe a below the belt comment, but really...a lot could have been done to make that building a little more inviting.

People don't necessary dislike all aspects of the entire building (the brick is kinda nice) , but most criticism is centered on the windowless ground floor and the sheer feeling of nothingness as one walks from the DeYor center to Hazel Street. It hard to believe that building is now a fixture on our main street for what will probably be at least 50 years.

And that's what I would like to stress upon those making the decision, if they ever read this blog, or if their buddies do: that the Technology Center will probably be on our main street for a long time.

A real long time.

Maybe the extra cost associated with a nicer building if it makes the site more attractive, that is actually welcoming to pedestrians and tourists, is money well spent.

UPDATE:

well, coming on the heels of this blog entry, the news broke that the CIC rejected all 6 of the bids.

According to the Business Journal, "The technology center is funded by a $2.5 million grant through the state of Ohio Board of Regents, a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s economic development administration, $248,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and $750,000 already spent on demolition and remediation from the states Clean Ohio Fund." These values add up to about $5.5 million dollars.

Alternatively, the Youngstown Vindicator had the amount come to $5.9 million in state and federal funding.

So when you figure in the cost of demolition ($768,500) between $4,729,500 and $5,131,500 seems to be remaining.

The executive committee of the Youngstown CIC, rejected the proposals Monday because they “omitted required characteristics and/or were in excess of the amount available for construction.”

wow. Maybe we'll be getting a big box store on Federal Street now.

And the second round of bidding may be much more interesting now that all of the other initial bids are known.

I guess we should just hope that some respectable design emerges from all this. Maybe the city can throw in a few bucks from their pool of money for facade grants. Or maybe another 200K is floating around out there.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

2 comments:

Jim said...

I agree that an attractive yet functional design should be incorporated into the building. Making a building address the street correctly and pedestrian oriented doesn't necessarily cost more...things like keeping the setback consistent with neighboring buildings and allowing a ground floor that relates to the street are easy to come by if thought of at the beginning of the design process. The city should address this early.

Paolo said...

I can't tell you how much I agree with you. It would truly be a shame if we were to end up with another Franken-Building on that street in place of the beautiful old buildings that used to be there. Let's all hope the CIC chooses something that is good for the city this time.