The Kannapolis City Council voted unanimously Monday to award the contract for the new city hall and police headquarters to Creech & Associates.
The decision follows the announcement on March 11 that David Murdock, owner of the N.C. Research Campus, would donate acreage in the center of the campus for a new municipal building.
Council members said David Creech, whose firm has designed other buildings on the campus and elsewhere, was best suited to the task of designing the building.
The cost of the approximately 100,000-square-foot building is expected to be around $20 million, according to a city staff report.
City Manager Mike Legg said the design phase would take about 30 weeks, followed by bidding and about 18 months of construction.
The city can expect to occupy the finished building “about mid-2015,” Legg said.
Creech & Associates was the architectural firm behind the David Murdock Core Laboratory building and other buildings on the N.C. Research Campus.
In donating the land, Murdock had requested that the city maintain the campus’ architectural standards.
That, Councilman Ryan Dayvault said, was a foregone conclusion.
“Frankly, we were going to do that anyway,” Dayvault said following Monday’s meeting.
Dayvault said Creech was the logical choice for the project, which he hopes will “create a truly consolidated space for city operations.”
Most cities and towns as old as Kannapolis, Dayvault said, “have had a true city hall facility for a hundred or more years.”
“I think we’ve lost a lot of community spirit by not having that here,” Dayvault said.
Mayor Pro Tem Gene McCombs also said Creech’s previous work and good reputation helped him make his decision.
“We’ve got confidence in that group of people,” McCombs told the Post.
According to the agreement approved Monday, the architect’s fee will be 7.5 percent of the estimated cost of construction, determined at completion of the design phase.
Based on the estimated cost of $20 million, that amounts to $1.5 million.
At the same time, Legg suggested to council members that they consider changing the format of one of the two monthly meetings to a work session.
Those meetings will continue to be public, and open to the press, but will take on a more informal atmosphere, with what Legg described as “more of a roll-up-our-sleeves kind of discussion.”
Speaking by phone after the council meeting, Legg said those discussions will give shape to the building and may include discussions of how many floors will be built, and how space will be allocated.
It’s possible that additional council meetings may be added as the process moves forward.
For example, McCombs said he expects discussions on how the building may incorporate “green” technology to be more energy efficient.
In other business, the Kannapolis City Council discussed proposed improvements to railroad crossings at 18th Street, 22nd Street and 29th Street.
The nearly hour-long discussion focused on improvements the city hopes to see the N.C. Department of Transportation undertake in exchange for their request to close the crossing at 29th Street.
Now that a proposed overpass at 24th Street is no longer on the table, city leaders hope to see improvements at other crossings to help keep traffic flowing.
Transportation officials want to close the 29th Street crossing because adding a second track in the area – part of a federally-funded rail project currently underway – would bring the railway line too close to Main Street.
A public hearing is planned for March to present proposed changes to the public.
But council members said they’re concerned about the state’s plans.
McCombs said the improvements “seemed to be centered primarily on the fact that this is good for the railroad, not on what’s good for traffic on Main Street.”
He said he expects to see further discussion on the addition of turn lanes at the 22nd Street and 18th Street crossings, as well as the possibility of a stoplight where 22nd Street meets Main Street.
“For better or worse, if we can have the other two (crossings) improved, maybe we’ll be able to survive” the loss of one more, McCombs said.
Further details on the public workshops are forthcoming.
No formal action was taken following the presentation.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.